Poetry | Learning to walk

Words by Yasthiel Devraj and illustration by Alizwa Mnyatheli

I move to stride
And find that I stumble
Blindly through a silken night.

Stars scoring third degree scars
Along the please-cut-here
Ridges of my psyche,
Their heat, like branding irons
Sunk into the ice water vacuum of space
Sizzling against my skin,
Small reminders of existence
Sentencing psychosis
To a momentary silence.

I move to stride
And find that the floor
Has unfolded beneath me
And I tumble through
Trapdoors of treacle,
into molasses webs
Of my own moulding,
Choking on stale, too-sweet air,
Surrendering to stagnant suffocation,
To my sofa.

I move to stride
And find myself hidden
In hallways drenched in Dettol
At my left ventricle,
Too impatient to wait out
Its imminent collapse.

I move to stride
And find, in barbed wire display cases,
Galaxies of would-be dreams -
Museums of passions
Briefly ignited
In oil spills of frenzied obsession
 — The kind that make you run as if
 Your lungs brewed cyanide

Dreams now dormant, decaying,
In the merciless metabolism
Of growing up.

And though for now I cannot see
Beyond the thick walls of molasses,
Nor hear above the nails that claw
Their screams across my chalkboard skin
My lungs still crave
Those swells of cyanide
And I lust to surf
Through those spills of oil
Once more

So still, I move to stride.

This piece was first published in Edition 14 of Ja. magazine.