128: Safe house

128: Safe house

Safe house
by Busisiwe Mahlangu

the old chair is pushed against the door/ the windows are closed/
the gate is locked/ the fence has barbed wire to hook the flesh/
a good night’s sleep is bought with “caution”:/ pull all the keys
out of the doors/
do not switch off the lights/ turn over the welcome mats/ tell the
dog to start barking

since they can steal from a body too/ I sat in the old chair behind
the door,/
I built windows with bricks/ I wrapped a chain and lock around
the gate,/
I have a scar on my leg from the fence/ every breath is taken with
swallow the keys after locking/ pretend to be awake/ burn all the
welcome mats/ teach the dog how to bite

we spent our lives waiting for thieves to come/ but they live in our

"Safe house," from SURVIVING LOSS by Busisiwe Mahlangu. Copyright © 2018 by Busisiwe Mahlangu. Used by permission of Impepho Press.