BY CORNELIA ROHDE
Apple, Moon, Fire
Apple and moon are his new words today.
Both round, both as delicious as he is.
One he can hold. One he tries to reach,
lifting his dimpled arm to the night sky.
His eyes land on the headline photo
of a man cycling close to an inferno of flames,
a smokescreen of burning rubber
to defy bomber pilots.
What dat? What doing? he asks.
Fire, I say, to teach him another word.
He doesn’t repeat it. He only insists,
What dat? What doing? over and over again.
I carry him into the California sunshine.
His laughter lights the morning as I push him
on the tire swing his father hung
from a branch of the gnarled pepper tree.
Sirens scream as a small boy
is lifted from Aleppo’s rubble.
What dat? What doing?
Sibongile brings La Foliage’s tony menu,
takes our order for organic beetroot
with hibiscus jelly, smoked cheesecake with garnishes
of sea lettuce and nettle pesto, cauliflower on a bed
of parmesan velouté with crushed chestnut,
Springbok carpaccio with fennel chutney,
naartjie buttermilk dressing, and puffed crackling.
For dessert, fresh strawberries sprinkled with roasted hay,
pistachio, violas, and a scoop of ginger sake ice cream.
He shakes our hands with a smile as we leave.
Off work, he will eat a sheep head roasted golden brown
over hot coals, its lips shrunken into a grin.
He imagines the delicate taste of its eyes,
its chewy ears, the suck and crunch of its bones.
Inhloko isiqokweni: head-on-a-plate. Real food.