In An Old Gift Bag There is little remembrance of that moment.

in an old gift bag
lies an old photograph of me

taken, in a moment of baptism
in a beginning
after which, self emerged
from water

there is little remembrance
of that moment
except that after,
the water

from the makeshift river
dammed up my ears

what I gained most
was a new sense of hearing

what I had most to lose,
the old sense

we learn by hearing
an old friend once told me

in the death of baptism
I end up
neither in heaven nor hell
but in the sea

in the watery grave
I possess
my faculties

in the depths
I hear
life living itself
breath animated

Pauline Buhlebenkosi Ndhlovu is a Zimbabwean-Namibian writer, curator, and visual anthropologist. Her work focuses primarily on exploring the interconnected affective registers associated with sensory experience. Through her writing and occasional image-making, she explores how words, images, sounds, and silences articulate different kinds of knowledge. Thematically, Buhle’s work explores black representation and black interiority, focusing specifically on the ways in which the themes of land, migration, memory, healing and time cut across.  Buhle is the current Winner of the Bank Windhoek Doek! Literary Awards Poetry Prize. In 2022, as a Chevening Scholar, she obtained a Master’s degree in Visual Anthropology from the University of Manchester. Buhle is currently a Zeitz MOCAA and UWC Museum Fellow, learning about curatorial practice, collections management, and contemporary scholarship on art discourse from the continent and its diaspora. 

Cover Image: Melvin Ankrah on Unsplash.