"Dinner in the garden," a poem by Rethabile Masilo



Dinner in the garden


We preferred to have dinner in the garden,

On a wicker table and chairs in the orchard

Under the trees, to smile when saying, ‘pass

The salt, please,’ looking at a disparate sun;

With father in prison, my brother sat at the head,

Called the menu. The only thing we had to bring

Was furniture and salt. My brother didn’t know

That while mom put him at the head she was also

Telling him how to sit, how to pick the salt up

And how much of it to sprinkle. When father got out

We were sick of raw fruit and vegetables. No one

Could look at a beet anymore. We were tired

Of the smell of beef from neighbours’ kitchens.

Every morning, even as we washed ourselves

With Lifebuoy we looked at them scrubbing

Oily pots and pans, before we smeared ourselves

With aloe vaseline and made ready for school.









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