I wanted to love him without his voice
being the small god to whom I offered myself at night;
a threshing floor sacrifice, clandestine,
not destined for or deserving of the morning light.
I wanted ceremonial bonfire;
drums and drunken delusion
to distract me from the pain
of his departure.
I wanted to feel something
besides the ache of longing.
I wanted to rid myself of regret.
I wanted to throw myself into the fire
and say he burned me.
He did, didn’t he?
He found me sober, yet not quite sane:
nobody with sense abandons their heart at a terminal —
the onward journey and its pain are inevitable.
He threw a match.
The fury swirled in my blood.
I tried on my empty ribcage.
Nobody knows about him.
I tend to my wounds in near-silence;
a firefly flailing in a glass jar.
Nkateko Masinga is an award-winning South African writer whose poetry has been translated into French, Bengali and Tamil. Her next poetry book, ‘Daughter Wound’, will be published by Hazel Press in 2024.