Mountain

The sun

Drips the foundation on my face down my collar bone;

This walk is no longer fun or graceful.

We have been circling parts of Namaqualand for over twenty minutes

Trying to locate the start of the mountain

Or the entry point of it,

Every entrance (we see) is fenced,

The dogs bark at the sight of our footsteps,

The dogs want to jump the fence;

The dogs look on defence,

I feel on defence,

I feel ready for a fight,

Guarded against a fight I do not yet see

But quickly foresee trouble

When the old white lady in her pyjamas, turns my back with her Afrikaans

And says you are on private property…

I question why I understand what she has said

And the mountain she calls private

“You can’t go up the mountain, without going past my property”

She says

I ask if she owns the mountain

And she says she owns this land:

Namaqualand?

I think she is implying she built the mountain,

Erected it stone by stone,

Imagined its existence before her birth.

I think she is telling me that

They own the mountains too.

And I swear

I am not making it about race, it’s not personal,

It’s just her mountain in

Namaqualand.

It’s just private poverty.

In the way your thoughts are private poverty.

In the way your freedom is private property.

In the way your obsessive partner thinks that you are his/her private poverty/

In the way your body is private

property.

In the way private property was lynched and sold back in the day.

It’s not personal, this private property thing

It just doesn’t not belong to you.

It was not built (by your ancestors) for you,

You are not allowed in it

You are not allowed on it

Unless you are the maid or nanny or garden boy or adopted

Or a cockroach bumping into things when the lights have been switched off

My friends (upon hearing this story) joke

That heaven will be private property too

So I’m guessing you won’t be able to go to heaven

Unless you are a servant of God,

And of course, we are people who cannot go anywhere

Or inherit anything unless we embody roles of servitude. 

And yet our forefathers built

kingdoms

We do not own or live on

As an inherit aspect of your settling, and our consequential migration

This current native land act tells us to

Move if we can’t afford it

Move if the neighbourhood is hostile

Move, because our guests are too loud

Move, because the neighbours have been complaining

Move, because the three dogs on a leash need more space on the pavement

Move, because I will bump you out of the way because I do not see colour

Move, the last two syllables of your name off your ID, so I can swallow who you are

Move your child to another school, ours is full (we have reached the quota for…. never mind)

Move, if you did not make a

reservation, there aren’t any more tables at this restaurant

(No! those ones are reserved)

Move, if you do not get along with the Landlord

The self-appointed Lords of this land

Are asking of you to move

To shift

To bend

To Jump

To beg

To become scraps

To become palatable

To shrink

To keep explaining

To be the explanation

To be the scapegoat

To be the actual goat

To be the slaughter house and the sacrifice,

But just not talk about the blood spill.

To be the apology

To be the excuse

To be the puppet, and the strings, and the applause, and the stage sweeper

In this native land act

We are the spectacle

The monkeys

The pun intended

The poetic visuals for the township tour

Our bodies are now the houses being demolished

Our throats bulldozed

Our words are the rubble

Our belongings no longer

recognizable

As we are yanked from our skin

Dodging assassination attempts that look like

Picnics and selfies with the law

And yoga poses during public

holiday marches

Telling us our movements do not matter

Unless we are moving out of the way

Or moving to make way

Or moving out

Or moving in together to squat like sardines in tin metal squares they call houses.

And unless your movement is about Mandela

It does not matter

So move it elsewhere

Just not up the mountain,

Because the mountain is for their banners

And anyway, you, you can’t go up the mountain

Apparently, it does not belong to you

Like everything else around here.

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