This poem is published in vangile gantsho's poetry novella red cotton. red cotton is an exploration of what it means to be black, queer, and woman in modern-day South Africa. gantsho interrogates being non-conformist in both a traditional-cultural-religious upbringing and a more liberal yet equally-oppressive urban socialisation. WARNING: The content of this poem is of an adult nature.
There is a room in the house we share
That neither of us may enter
We had not noticed it before, when we used to talk
Now the silence rattles the door
A gentle back and forth against the frame while we sleep
A pair of black gumboots covered in mud
Soils a brown carpet with a single stain
A dark patch. blood and ink maybe, in the middle of the room
A half-burned candle melted into an empty jar of baby food
The wind has scattered snuff all over the floor
A vase with dead flowers on a small side-bed table
We blame the silence for the room
The door we cannot open
We share a bed on which we can never touch
Our roof leaks. We do not fix it
The mould on the corner of our ceiling
Is the only conversation this house knows
a dead baby waits for a woman by a door
wrapped in a yellow blanket.
the woman takes the baby home.
nurses it for three days,
before planting it in her garden.
it has been three years since she lost her son.
the half-crescent scar below her stomach has almost disappeared.
a pink rose the size of a small tree now grows
from where her baby was planted.