Monday, November 10, 2014

Togara Muzanenhamo on the BBC and at the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival

Zimbabwean poet, Togara Muzanenhamo, whose forthcoming poetry collaboration with John Eppel, Textures, is to be published by 'amaBooks, read his short story, 'The Silt Path', on BBC Radio 4 on 10 November, and participated in the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival the same weekend.

You can listen to the short story, for the next four weeks, on:

Togara's poetry, below, was featured on the 'Ink, Sweat and Tears' website as part of ‘Poetry & Disobedience’ at the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival 2014
Posted by Kate Birch on Nov 6, 2014

from Lyra

He could smell the ocean. Almost hear the water
rushing up against the rocks. Great sprays of salt
banking up then falling back. Red carcasses of ships
rusting all across the shoreline. He clutched his hip.
The brass fragment jutting out – an ‘S’ with a bolt
loose at its upper most tip. He stopped. The sputter
of an engine. Looking over his shoulder he could
see a small black dot trailed by a tail of dust. Fuck.
The cliff face was bare and steep, his body pressed
flat against it, black like an ant. He was at the most
difficult point of the climb. Here he judged the rock-
face jutting out above him, a large shelf he would
have to scale using only the strength of his arms.
Pain tore through his body, his legs cycling the air
as his arms trembled above his weight. He pulled
himself up onto the top part of the shelf, crawled
for a bit, then just lay there on his belly, sucking air.
Beneath him, because the sand was already warm,
all he saw was fresh blood creeping out. A red stain
growing silently. He looked up, ahead. The mouth
of the cave gaped back at him. Black. He slithered,
angry with pain, towards the entrance, rowing hard
on his elbows. In the cave: cool air, a thin footpath
disappearing deep into the distant sound of rain.
The smell of water over stone fell heavy with iron.
A constant trickle riding away, deep to where colour
knew no other colour than black. The sound of a fire
crackled and spattered. The light at first vermilion
on the dome of the cave, then a whole riot of crystal
sparks revealing wet constellations: reds, purples,
blues – bright for a second or two – became alluvial
shadows, smoke cloaked. Incandescent. His people’s
words ran through his mind in rapid, furious bursts
of prayer. He could hear every whisper. Soft trickles of
water flowed along cold walls, compelling his thirst.
An arm cradled his head. Dregs of sediment and rough
indefinable grains seeping into the froth of his beard.
A woman’s voice echoed. A constant stream of cool
water flowed over his forehead. The cave’s colourful
display washing in waves. Its walls wet ­and fissured.
If it’s them, they’re coming down the south tunnels.
Sound carries deeper there
. There were others though.
Others in the caves. They would hear the shouts echo
through the water corridors. Horrible screams. They’ll
kill us all. We have to leave him!
 He lay stretchered.
Water neck high. Oily rainbows beneath the dirty flame
slithering in their wake. Ahead the black passage stared
back at them like a lair. Deep, cold and uncertain.
For hours. Nothing. The cold on their skin like a numb
suit. Darkness echoing off the wet rock. They held still.
Occasional voices. Movement in other tunnels. The hum
of a fan powering some sort of machine. They held still,
huddled like eels in the cramped recess. The machine
humming closer with the slow swish of wading. The light
growing stronger on the cave’s wet walls, almost bright
as day, then suddenly brighter. Cold. Clinical. Clean.

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