smallgirl. vangile gantsho

smallgirl with moths in her mouth
speaks anger in glances     knows the dagger of words
smallgirl     big voice     moves in silence
knows how earthquakes begin

in the rumbling of her stomach
entire families collapse

smallgirl cares too much     for such a small girl
smallgirl with treacherous eyes
carries too much feeling in her lungs
knows the sting of lonely
smallgirl sees too much     breathes too much
takes up too much air
smallgirl is too much mirror and     expectation
too much wanting more
smallgirl should know better than to try fight the sun

smallgirl with hands of spades
smallgirl dreams too much. hopes too much
wants to plant and grow
smallgirl thinks she is the ocean
smallgirl is a stream

smallgirl will break her heart with all this want
smallgirl is not even the wind

smallgirl must learn to swallow
and be pretty

vangile gantsho is a poet, healer and co-founder of impepho press. Pan-Africanist and unapologetically womanist, she has participated in poetry plays, events, and festivals on the continent and abroad. gantsho is the author of two collections, Undressing in front of the Window (2015) and red cotton (2018). She holds an MA, with distinction, in Creative Writing from the University Currently Known as Rhodes (2016).