For Don M — Banned

it is a dry white season
dark leaves don’t last, their brief lives dry out
and with a broken heart they dive down gently headed for the earth,
not even bleeding.
it is a dry white season brother,
only the trees know the pain as they stand still erect
dry like steel, their branches dry like wire
indeed it is a dry white season
but seasons come to pass.

— Mongane Wally Serote

South African Mongane Wally Serote was arrested in June 1969 by the apartheid government under the Terrorism Act. He spent nine months in solitary confinement before being released without charge. Serote wrote this poem for Don Mattera, a poet who was banned — prohibited from appearing and or speaking at public functions —by the government between 1973 and 1982.

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