Stop living for me,
my death cannot be your torture.
I lived long and truly well –
my body had a simple story to tell.
I crawled, I spoke and I walked –
not in that particular order.
I ate, I got sick and I spat –
Through it all, my parents were my biggest supporters.
I learned, I made mistakes, then learned so much more –
my world was coloured in cultures.
In the public square, my eyes were forced to swallow up our people’s blood
and coughed up their dignity.
At home, I knelt in my private shame,
searched my neighbour’s eyes for some collective pride,
and, in time, we all rose like the smoke from a flaming tide.
I loved and I unloved,
I cried and I also told their lies.
Now, my dreams are lived through your daily smiles –
Long before, I gave my nightmares to the vultures
So, stop living for me
because your time stands before your horizon –
my time was long and I lived it well.
Retshepisitswe ‘Tshepi’ Makhatha was born in Mthatha, which lies in the Eastern Cape in South Africa. He has been published in Poetry Potion’s 10th print edition titled ‘This Woman Is…’ as well as The Kalahari Review, Ons Klyntji, Praxis Magazine online, Stanzas, and Poetry Super Highway. His 2-minute play was read at the National Arts Festival held in Grahamstown in 2017. He won 4th Place in the Avbob Poetry Competition in 2019.