16.06.1976

For Unknown 16/06/76
(after a visit to the Hector Pieterson Memorial in Soweto, June 16, 2005)

a frozen face
on a white wall.

open mouth
rigid arms

your eyes
are the eyes of your comrades

children
with weighted shoulders

and loud voices
muted by the captured moment.

but I hear it.
decibels of scaled anger
your suffering erupt,

holding out its arms to me.

am I worthy of embrace?

1976- not even a seeded thought
in the mind of a girl I call mother.

you are background
context to your time
framing the “struggle”
painting it with your essence
as bullets tattoo your fate.

A bricked acknowledgement
that you were felled on that day
now bedded on gravel
bordered by the crunching tourist tiptoes
echoing now-impotent jackboots

the granite speaks

of more bodies,
not nobodies
but somebodies
with names
and for others without

there is a brick
in a yard
on the gravel.

Published by

saaleha

I am a writer and photographer (look up my work on www.shootcake.com) based in Johannesburg, South Africa. I have an MA in Creative Writing from the university currently known as Rhodes. My writing accolades include winning the 2014 Writivism Short Story Prize and the 2020 Ingrid Jonker Poetry Prize for my debut collection, Zikr.

3 thoughts on “16.06.1976”

  1. To Hector Pieterson and all the named and nameless whose senseless deaths are not always as meaningless as they may at first seem to be.

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