Apartheid, Author: Gertrude Fester-Wicomb

Your office is impeccable.
Book shelves lined with great revolutionaries,
Karl Marx to Kim il Sung.
You apologies for the girlie calendar on your door
hang your coat over it, in deference to the feminist prisoner.
You’re full of self-importance – proud
that you’ve got your degree in Police Science, cum laude;
some excuse why you couldn’t do your honours.
Your prisoner had her Master’s degree.
You’ve taken down the photo of PW the president,
replaced it with your UNISA degree. You –
promoted to Major after this last scoop of terrorists.

I do not confess.
I do not sing my acts of terror
you wish me to create.
I am a danger to the State,
arrested under the Internal Security Act.
You expect me to endorse this fact?

I sit

Now you’ve dropped your veneer of gentleman.
You’ve forgotten you’ve tried to impress me
with your gabble about Radio Pulpit.
What a good Christian you are –
quoting from your bible.
Now you sweat,
You loosen your tie,
Your hair is dishevelled.
And now
your threaten me,
hover over over me,
your sweat drizzling on me,
your hot breath on my face.

Your threats deafen me –
how, when you’re done with me,
arthritic pains will not be the only ones I’ll have,
You will break my bones,
keep me locked up as long as you want,
ten years are nothing,
I will rot in prison,
For ever … for ever …

I believe you,
cringe further into my chair.

You turn away,
straighten your tie,
dab your wet brow,
you pull your clothes straight,
compose yourself.

In my fear and pain,
my eyes yearn
to gulp up some distraction
away from this vulnerability.

On your shining desk,
next to the photo of your nuclear family
smiling with white South African confidence into the friendly sky,
stands a handmade pencil holder
with edges of glued paper peeling,
And a child’s scrawny handwriting
proudly announcing:

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