My friend, Joshua, introduced me to Thuli Zuma a while ago through her spoken word piece 90 Trillion, and after spending some time on her tumblr, I fell in love with her art. The poem I’m about to share with you is maybe my favourite from all her work I’ve seen (I’m not sure I can pick a favourite really, but for the sake of this post, let’s agree that it is).
When I was young, and my parents were going out, I would always ask to come along. “Let’s go to the shops!” I’d say. “To get what?” “Things!” The answer always came, “let’s go get things”. My father loves this story, tells it all the time, it’s his favourite of me, it’s sweet I guess- but really I think it’s just because it’s his only one.
As a kid, I used to hold my breath, just- stop breathing for no reason. Perhaps because I’ve always liked the idea of getting to start over. My heart, it’s too big for my chest. There’s isn’t space enough for it in there, space to run, space to bleed, but really it just wants room to sing, or hands to finger-paint.
I like to paint my nails. Once when I was nine I touched a rainbow. People told me you couldn’t reach its end. I was too young to know to believe the lies of those who insist that there can’t be so. So these days, I paint my fingertips, just to remind me that I saw the face of God once before I grew up and learnt that he couldn’t exist.
Once long ago I hid destiny in my soul, and now for the life of me, I can’t find it- it keeps me up. Some nights, I hear it rattling around some marbles I misplaced. I lose everything. I used to know exactly where home was but somewhere along the line I lost that too.
When I was younger, I knew everything. Now I’ve learnt I don’t know much of anything at all. I know there are some things in this world so fragile you can break them with a sigh, eternity can be measured in the width of a baby’s outstretched palm, that even hardened men have sacred in them, that God-dust from which they were created and to which they will one day return.
No you don’t have to be in jail to be in prison, you cannot build walls high enough to keep you safe from knowing. I know the world keeps turning, spinning on its axis since time immemorial, even when the clocks in your soul stop, and your world implodes, and it does this not to mock you, but to reassure you: the day will come, the sun will rise, you will find your strength, you will rise.
I know that there are some things that make what is broken whole, things that put together and actually hold, things that make it easier to breathe when grief collapses your lungs and all you can taste is howling. And there are things that turn bomb blasts into basebys – they can do no more harm than tickle the organs inside your chest. And there are things in this world, that ease the unrest, that water what is dry, bring back to life what has died, things that make loving worthwhile and these things- they are given to those who don’t deserve it. Because- who of us really deserve it?
When I was young, I knew everything. Now, I only have a sense of it, as in a…dream of a dream of a painting I’ve seen but I wasn’t really paying attention and now I don’t really remember but when I was young and my parents were going out I would always ask to come along. “Let’s go to the shops!” I’d say. “To get what?” “Things!” The answer always came, “let’s go get things”.
Now I don’t think that they can be bought, but I know like I know there are things in this world cause even though I’m half-grown, I still find myself holding my breath some days. And this heart of mine, big as it is, has found a way to beat in this broken chest most days. And I know this world it’s all but done but really our lives are ever just begun. So come along, take my hand, trust yourself if you can. Let’s go get things.
You can see the video here.
Have an amazing week everyone. Set your mind free, let yourself be.. Live life… Trust God. Go get things :*