So say the children of the Royal House,
although the land is no longer ours.
This land will be folded like a blanket,
till it is the size of the palm of a hand.
The racing ox will become enmeshed in the fencing wire.
It will no longer have the strength to dance freely.
It will be worn out by the yoke and the plough.
We will bump breast to breast like tadpoles in a calabash ladle.
The bride price of our daughters will be paid in coins –
trivial things that come and go, constantly being exchanged.
Nowadays it is said that blood should not be spilled,
one nation meeting another in conflict,
but now we no longer lick each other like a cow licks her calf,
driven by love and inborn instinct.
Can one coin lick another caringly?
A man may now bicker with his son’s wife,
and a son may now forgo respecting his wife’s mother!
We fold up our knees – unable to stretch out,
because the land has been shrunk.
Translated from isiXhosa by Koos Oosthuysen
To read the original, click here: Ukwenziwa komkhonzi
Reproduced by permission of Oxford University Press Southern Africa (Pty) Ltd from Stitching a Whirlwind: An anthology of Southern African poems and translations coordinated by Antjie Krog. © Oxford University Press (Pty) Ltd 2018