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Intaba Zebhukazana

(The Hogsback Mountain)

Mzi Mahola

The steep mountains of Katberg
Locked with the Hogsback
With the Winterberg
Form Lushington basin
Fearfully high to strangers
And equally high to travellers
Yet too shy in rainy months
Always hiding in the fog.
On wintry days sleeping under snow
A haven for a thousand hogs
Wealth of the mountain tribe
Flora and petra
Pride of nature's finger
Carved for tiny souls
A freedom from mankind.

I long for berries
Wild fruit and game
I miss cliffs and waterfalls
Spewing fury in white rage
That petrified me as a child
Mysteries of nature
Springs and streams
No drought could tame.
Their water is nostalgic
I yearn for stock and crops
Produce of the peasants
The generous soil
A pleasure to the tiller.
I miss the vulture's plea
Keen to caress a carcass
Of a horse that has served its master.

Everywhere I went strange looks followed
Names of childhood friends
Had never been heard
Where their homes stood
Now tall trees grow
And where I was born
A big dam smiles,
It has swallowed the past.
I wanted to scream
Of course they would whisper
“I told you. He's mad!”
For answers I looked at the mountain
With tiny footprints
They were threateningly huge.

Could those baboons and buck
Which we once hunted
Recognise me for old time's sake?
I felt thirsty but springs were dry
Willows oaks and stones
Had they lost their special names?
I stayed away from you
Land of our forefathers,
But you keep pulling me
Like a spell.

LitNet: 02 August 2006

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