Many seek the answer to problems of the world,
And none of them know it is the snake in the question,
Especially when one finds it curled, its head in the sun,
The rest of its body out, on a morning when the air is still,
Like a question mark missing its dot. Yet, the answer to what?
The world goes around the sun, and also around itself
Like a dog chasing its tail. The moon whirls around earth
Alone like a dot that fell off a punctuation mark
On the most relevant question ever posed by man: who
Are we/Where are we going/Are we alone/Will the world
Have a serene ending or a noisy, disorderly one with parents
Looking for their children under beds and patios till eternity,
Not knowing that their children are already dead?
All of it is one question, when you think about it. Grammar
Just doesn’t enable us to ask it properly, the same way
Politics keep people apart, no matter that we are all human.
And if that’s the question, the answer waits in the brain
Of the golden beetle, that small coleopteran which thrives
On leaves and on rotting matter found on the tombs
Of Shaka, Moshoeshoe, Robert Sobukwe and Bram Fischer.
RETHABILE MASILO is a Mosotho poet who has lived in France for more than 30 years. He left his country, Lesotho, as a refugee in 1981, eventually ending up in the USA where he continued his biology studies. He moved to France in 1987 and has lived there ever since, effecting as many visits to Lesotho as possible.
He has published four books of poetry as well as two poetry anthologies that he was editor of. In 2014 his poem ‘Swimming’, from his second book Waslap won the Dalro First Prize in poetry, as well as the Thomas Pringle Award for Poetry in South African periodicals a year later. The poem had first appeared in the magazine New Coin, Vol. 49 Number 1, in June 2013.
In 2016 the same collection of poems, Waslap, published by The Onslaught Press a year earlier, was awarded The Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry. That same year in October he was invited to participate in the 20th Poetry Africa Festival in Durban, where he also represented The World Poetry Movement; and in June 2019 he was part of The International Poetry Festival of Medellin in Colombia, to whose 30th anniversary festival in 2020 he has been invited.