The boy

The boy

has his father’s eyes but they are closed because

he is exhausted; he stands still and silent,

I pray to the birds, to the horses and my

father’s family to keep him safe from harm. I see

blood, sweat and dust, his young, thin arms are

scratched, his feet bruised and I smell the juice

which has made him delirious; I smell his energy

and the burning pain yet to come. I am here to see

this boy become his father and honour our family,

our tradition, but my teeth rattle, a mother’s tears

cannot help him now, cannot stop this rite of

passage, stop the hands, her knife. Later

I will bathe his wounds.


The women are singing and drumming beside

me and I want to cry, my mind is calling out to

to calm his fear, his ordeal and I think,

are they going to kill him?

It feels like those hands have cut me,

I have my own wound as I mourn the loss

of a son, my baby boy, my little one.


He has gone now, forever, this boy; our only boy.

I feel the ancestors in my heart, my body,

my bloodline. My father gone but present,

I am all of the colours around.

I feel at peace knowing I will die here

at home with my family in my village.

In the forest the children will run over me.


Published in The Projectionist’s Playground #3, 31 August 2017,
Editor: Julius Smit