Lethokuhle Msimang

I was once calm and kind and meek

It’s fascinating, the things we do to keep ourselves amused. I had a Russian man take my photograph. I touched my body and arched my back. I tore off my clothes and danced for him. It felt as though I had no soul. “I was once beautiful” I let him know. I was once calm and kind and meek. I once silenced a room with a question. Once the men fell under my feet. Once, I said, I wrote poetry and I did my work each day. But those who’d seen my mind couldn’t imagine my body when I am made of flesh and bone. “You’re beautiful,” he said, “Thanks,” I agreed, “but what on earth for?” I still hear the children laughing, I still fear a young man’s tone. So I walk through a park with an old respectable man. He talks about the breeze, where I could freeze, I shouldn’t be here. Still, I’ll linger in the damp and cold in his old romantic way. We’ll marvel at the setting sun, as one day, he says, he’ll pass away. And one day I’ll have no secrets and I’ll wonder when I’m cold — Where do all these fickle men go? When do they go? Where do they settle? Why must wind always blow?