A religious refugee from Lesotho, alumnus Rethabile Masilo (’84) was known as a soccer player, a rebel with Rasta hair and a poet who published in Maryville College’s literary journal, Impressions Magazine.
Masilo now works as an English teacher in France. His book of poetry, “Things That Are Silent,” is due out in March.
Masilo has been publishing poetry since his days in Impressions Magazine. These days, he co-edits the arts journal Canopic Jar. His work can also be found amongst the entries in his blog, Poéfrika.
Dr. Brunger remembers working with Masilo.
“Rethabile had an attitude partly as a result of being a refugee—when his father spoke out against the government, the family only had 24 hours to leave the country,” Brunger said. “He started getting his act together when he met his future wife, started getting better grades.”
The couple moved to France in 1987 and lives there with their two children.
Masilo’s “Things That Are Silent” will contain this poem, titled “Janice’s Poem”:
When you get there, the horses of dawn
before you, the furious wheels of drawn carts,
each distance hard-won with sweated salt,
the road flat between miles; tense; only hoof
and sound of wheel loud above the air,
proof that this is not just a bad dream,
who can say what’s best to do for our calm?
You sit like sculpted ivory among jaded colours,
something in the face you wear, hung like a mask
on walls of inner rooms, something in the sound
whose echo names you, the morning of which
rose out from the gold of you, flaring nostrils
at the world. How can we say who is to blame?
Halfway into destiny, the sun lost all hope,
and shone into itself across the great Smokies.
A slow descent home. The accurate death
of the first words ever spoken: let there be light.
What do we know about the meanings
of things that work against that kind of light?
Unlike some of Masilo’s other poems, such as those found in the blog Poéfrika, “Janice’s Poem” is not themed about war or conflict in Africa.
As framed in the lines, “Halfway into destiny, the sun lost all hope / and shone itself across the great Smokies. / A slow descent home,” the poet seems to be remembering his time at MC, near the Smoky Mountains.
Masilo serves as an excellent representation of MC graduates around the world. Look for “Things That Are Silent” in March, and support this international alumnus.