Hands of memory transport the dead: an old man
who would sit in the sun and shift with it.
Here he is, now, a thinned cast-off in our arms.
Soldiers whose hearts dispensed death, who played
murder under their proper rules at night. They left
our small boy with a very interrupted life, between
Leabua's face in the window of a limousine and hands
of memory that can't stop bringing these to us:
the names of oxen bled at funerals, their lowing
loud near the limits of the valley still. From there,
here is eternity, and here is god, sleeping in again,
for these are what is being delivered to us/ children
not in school to wave flags at a long, black motorcar.
How can we undercome, we who must meet death
halfway before it takes over our turning eyes,
the round egg-white of eyesight bleeding
at the edges? We know loving and do not want
to trade places. We shall stand our ground, holding
the past and passing it from hand to hand to now/
and it will be ours, for our freedom will imagine it,
this memory in the hands of our father and mother,
of the first ones who came before us, their hands
procuring us things/ family photos with the boy
in them. The custody of his memory. Each hand
on deck in the shadows, filling gaps left by retired
time/ Mbera in the sitting room of our daydreams.

Share this poem now