Long dried, far from their vast green
Ping-pinging kernel after kernel
Into a red-petaled enamel basin.
Absent fingers churn out
Thought-images of hot weeks in December
spent among trees and grasshoppers.
Sing-song sashays through sibilant grass.
Ticking and tocking memories
Flicking them one after the other
Into one waiting bowl.
Time held in cobs and rows -
A stuttering trance
Of dusty barefoot days
at my grandmother's.
Guava trees wild, yellow-green
The glorious return home with the biggest, juiciest,
yellowest of the fruit.
An isolated patch of cropped, cool grass
from which we watched night fall -
the leisurely sinking of the sun, beyond those dry hills.
Then star-studded blackness.
The long, wistful howling of mongrel dogs
with forgotten names and old eyes
Slow SiSwati stories. A candle
burns until dawn.
A mass of skimny limbs tangled - the owners picked off by sleep
one by one.
Tick, ping, tock, ping