POEMS by Molantwa Mmele

The garden boy

My grandfather
has a beautiful floral garden
in his house, he spends at least two hours
on it before the sunrise
and after the sunset to cultivate
the soil and irrigate his plants and so forth

During the day he ambles around the
garden admiring his blossoms, pulling out
weeds and spraying insects away.
His old friends call him “the garden boy”.

Yesterday we went to visit
my grandmother’s grave. I for the first time
saw her name on the tombstone:
Mapalesa Rose Yatlholeho
and it all came together


We did not have enough space
for Christmas trees in our home
The only empty spaces that we had
were our moaning stomachs, and brains
starving for knowledge.
We were nothing else but young faces
wearing dusty veils made of thousand smiles
Regardless …

POEM: You know it’s Christmas


You know it’s Christmas when Dad buys watermelon,
when the south-easter blows
and there’s no parking at the beach
and sand’s in your teeth and in your ears —
sand is everywhere.

You know it’s Christmas when Granny boils tickeys
for the Christmas pudding
when the tomatoes cost ten times what they cost in November
and all the avocados are sold
and the Woolies queue stretches around past the frozen chickens.

You know it’s Christmas when Boney M plays incessantly
in every shop and on all the radio stations
and Gran is making pickled fish
because the yellowtail are running
and the trekkers are pulling them in on the beach.

You know it’s Christmas when the baboons raid the fig tree
and you have to quickly pick the green ones
to make fig preserve
and the white butterflies come
and Christmas beetles fly into your ear at Carols by Candlelight.

You know it’s Christmas when the brass band and singers stroll
up the street and stand outside your house until you give them money
when it rains softly just because it’s Christmas Day
and then the sun comes out and you can go to the beach
and play on the lilos and body boards you got as presents.

You know it’s Christmas when you can smell the rubber of a new doll
or when you smile at the mother-in-law through clenched teeth
because she gave you tiny purple bunches of grapes as earrings
and you know the shirts she gave her son
he won’t wear
but at least the kids like their new clothes.