Subscribe to Newsletter
Monthly Newsletter: Join more than 5,000 African literature enthusiasts!
Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our "Guide to African Novels."

Photo credit: Bureau of Land Management via Flickr.

 

I

The beginning contains a seed of the end.

II

A man stands at the foot of the mountain. Naked, head bowed. Face rectangular and rough and red as a brick. Russet beard cut square at the jaw. Delicate sheath of skin, hardly sufficient for survival. He gazes without vision at his feet, bare to night and day.

III

Scorpions come. They swarm the sand with tails curved up-and-over, deathsacs poised, muttering among themselves. The man lifts his face to the mountain. A barren, muscular formation. Volcanic. No trace of plant or water anywhere. Which mountain is this? Where? Detail is my responsibility. I am irresponsible.

IV

I take the man by the shoulders, turn him in my hands. I feel his bones under the filmthin flesh. He is all husk. Why is he standing here, unclothed, at the foot of a mountain? Where does he come from? Where is he going? I skirt the skin, crafting meaning from the outside in. The pockmarked aging face, the eyes shot with blindness, the leather hands, the inflamed nakedness, the bulk of muscle in shoulders, thighs, calves – all this speaks.

V

Winter winds blow. Beyond the scorpions crouch naked beings, ruddy with dust and sunlight. They watch the blind man, hundreds upon hundreds of squatting forms. They huddle in clusters as far as the eye can see, clasping their knees and sharing what warmth is mustered in their cores. Now and then they spring up, jump from foot to foot and shake their limbs to get the blood going. Then they squat again. They watch the man with thoughtful, restless eyes. Each waits to be made animal, a being of pain and desire and affection.

VI

Looking down, I see the man at the foot of the mountain, face uptilted. I see the scorpions advance, death in their tail tips. I see the expectant beings and their saucer-eyes. I see my feet, rooted, sidebyside.

VII

I do not rest. I dismantle, rearrange, identify. Resolution will not come. I discard all but the man. The man I circle and inspect. I pinch the biceps, quadriceps, calves. Slide my fingers through the firehair of his chest. Stroke the ear from lobe to helix, tip the lip with my thumb. Does he intuit all that he has forfeited? He stands motionless, blueblind eyes raised skyward, as if a mountain yet loomed before him.

 

 

About the Writer:

Kharys Ateh Laue is a South African writer whose fiction has appeared in New Contrast, Itch, and Pif Magazine. In 2017, she was longlisted for the Short Story Day Africa prize. She currently lives in South Korea, where she teaches English.

Tags: ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Welcome to Brittle Paper, your go-to site for African writing and literary culture. We bring you all the latest news and juicy updates on publications, authors, events, prizes, and lifestyle. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram (@brittlepaper) and sign up for our "I love African Literature" newsletter.

Monthly Newsletter!

Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our
"Guide to African Novels."

Archives

Oyinkan Braithwaite Wins the 2019 Anthony Award for Best First Novel

Photo credit: CrimeReads

Nigerian author Oyinkan Braithwaite has won the 2019 Anthony Award for her debut novel My Sister, the Serial Killer. Braithwaite […]

Winners of the 2019 Nommo Awards

nommo

On October 25, the African Speculative Fiction Society (ASFS) announced the winners of the 2019 Nommo Awards. The award announcement […]

Editor’s Note | 20.35 Africa: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, Volume II | Ebenezer Agu

Anthology

In producing this anthology, there were challenges we had not foreseen, mostly because the individuals involved lived in different continents […]

Bibi Bakare-Yusuf, Sarah Ladipo Manyika, Olumide Popoola, Mukoma wa Ngugi at Stimmen Afrikas Literaturfestival in Cologne, Germany

dsc5659

From November 6 to November 9 2019, 33 guests from 19 countries, including several notable African authors, scholars, other individuals […]

Romeo Oriogun’s Debut Poetry Collection, Sacrament of Bodies, an Interrogation of Queerness, Masculinity & Nigerianness, Now Available for Pre-order

Oriogun

In 2018, the Nigerian poet Romeo Oriogun was named an Institute of International Education Artist Protection Fund Fellow and a […]

20.35 Africa | Momtaza Mehri, Megan Ross, Nadra Mabrouk, Saddiq Dzukogi Featured in Forthcoming Volume II, Guest-Edited by Yasmin Belkhyr & Kayo Chingonyi

READ: 20.35 Africa: An Anthology of Contemporary African Poetry, Volume 2 Earlier this year, we announced a call for submissions […]

Thanks for signing up!

Never miss out on new posts. Subscribe to a digest, too:

No thanks, I only want the monthly newsletter.