On Reading of the Hanging of a
Dissident Black Poet in South Africa

                                    --Beidaihe, China

FromWatercolor Painting of a Bamboo Rake -- Brooding Heron Press, 1994

Here on the Bohai sands
waves curl into their green sounds.
Benjamin Moloise was hanged
today in Pretoria.
Where the sun burns the water
Chinese fishermen fling their nets.
Their boats bob like corks.
Beyond boats and nets, my country floats, 
a dream of far away blue.
Benjamin Moloise was hanged today.
In blue padded jackets, a crowd 
of locals comes to stare
from a pier at the weird Americans
in their shorts and bikinis,
leaping in and out of foam.
That old woman with pruny skin
has never seen a blond boy, never heard
an American boy shriek and splash
in the chilly sea we love.
Benjamin Moloise will never stroll
this blond shore. Beyond men 
and their nets floats an island 
where no one is ever hanged.
On the far end of the beach,
a young woman sits before her easel.
She paints aspens, waves, wind, 
boats bobbing like corks,
a dream of far away blue.
Today in Pretoria they hanged
the poet Benjamin Moloise.

Edward Harkness