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"Sangoma," a poem by Rethabile Masilo

Updated: Jun 10, 2020


The sky is heavy with rain.

She touches heads of hundreds with her hand

and walks among them, the bones

in her sack in agreement with the clan;

she touches the swollen parts of every back,

face, foot sole, then walks

toward the rondavel where she keeps

medicines her father left in phials,

the muti of a thousand memories,

and roots she digs herself when dew

has softened the earth enough, and true power

in the flesh of plants is ripening.

With a pestle she pounds root tips in a cup

and mixes them with red sap from a phial

off the shelf. Tomorrow she will touch

heads of thousands with a red, healing stain

on the tips of her fingers. And she will tell

her ancestors to send down the rain.

"Sangoma" is from Qoaling by Rethabile Masilo

(Onslaught Press, 2018).

For more Rethabile, visit

Poéfrika, often.

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