A love poem to a sister I once knew.
She was an artist just like you
A fellow traveler in this journey called life.
With hopes and dreams which she weaved and
Crocheted into multi-coloured hats and scarves.
Their imperfections perfect against the biting Johannesburg winter.
Ever smiling. Warmly as if you were sunshine.
The gaps on her teeth revealed a soft spoken, pink tongue of a poet.
Whose voice could not reach beyond her shadow.
You had tea with her.
Maybe shared a beer, a smoke.
She showed you her wares
You bought a hat, a scarf.
Out of pity
You promised to pay
Forgetting that she too needed to eat.
Just like you
Yet she smiled and said Okay.
Next time my brother. Next time my sister.
Before I forget.
She was Petronella.
A daughter of educated travelers
Who moved as ancient nomads
From country to country
Until they found a place among us.
Yes she is that lady.
The free spirit.
The one who lived in Soweto
Afraid to stay alone – in an empty house
While neighbours watched her
And stole from her the minute she was gone.
She was the lone storyteller.
Who hitched-hiked and organized lifts to attend your show
your exhibition opening.
She walked through perilous Johannesburg nights
Criss-crossing the city
to attend your gig and dance to your music.
She’s the one that asked for a place to lay her head
For just one night.
For the love of Art.
With you she was among friends.
Because that is where she could sell her warmth
Share her wisdom and hear your stories.
Before we forget.
Her name was Petronella.
You didn’t even notice that she was there.
Yet she loved you.