Three Poems by Nkateko Masinga
There Must Be Black Angels in Heaven
…a response to an article titled ‘There are no black angels in heaven’ by Lisa Sharon Harper
At the souvenir shop downtown
I ask to buy a brown angel doll
for my baby niece.
The shop assistant shrugs
as if to say there are no angels that look like me
or any of my people.
I pull out a photograph and show her
looking like all the black angel women
who stitched her together with their own bones and blood.
I put on my mother’s attitude and tell her
black glass ballerinas
I imagine dying here
and instead of someone saying
look, a black angel
they will say
if she flies,
she must be a witch.
I pray often
mostly to stay alive
but today I want to ask
if there are black angels in heaven.
Date Night in the City Centre
we are painting the city black tonight
– not red
If we paint it red they will say we asked for the bloodshed
that we offered our bodies as a sacrifice
but these are mourning clothes disguised as skin
and those of us still living
will hold hands and be the walls of the city
and those who can’t stand will sit and be its pillars
and those who can’t sit will lie down and be its pavement
and by morning
(through our mourning)
we will have rebuilt the city
and if we could levitate
we would be the sky too
but if we stay out late enough
we will blend into the night
and the stars will come out
saying we can make a wish
But we don’t make wishes anymore
we only pray
and I am praying for life
I am praying for another chance
to have a date night in the city centre
and make it home alive.
Mama used to pick out my church clothes
but these days my Sunday best is a sad face
and a question about America
and South Africa
and the world.
I want to know where to be black and alive
at the same time
and it is not America
or South Africa
or the world.
Nobody can pick out an outfit for you
when you are already overdressed in grief
There are pieces of me scattered across oceans
shards of glass that won’t be gathered
Someone please collect me –
wear gloves. the edges are sharp
Someone bring back my body
Someone please check the last seen option on my profile
Am I still here?
Was it my sister
or my mother
who didn’t make it home
to pick out a church outfit
for her daughter?
Nkateko Masinga is a medical student, poet and writer who lives in the east of Pretoria, South Africa. Nkateko is the author of three poetry collections: ‘The Sin In My Blackness’ (2015). ‘A War Within The Blood’ (2016), ‘While The World Was Burning’ (2017). Her poems are published in the 2017 edition of U.S journal ‘Illuminations’ and are forthcoming in UK pamphlet press ‘Pyramid Editions’ in 2018. In 2015, her work was shortlisted for the ‘Respond’ Human Rights Poetry Award 2015/2016, organized by the United Human Rights Student Network (UHRSN).
Social media handles:
Facebook: Enkay Masinga