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FARAI CHAKA

Farai Chaka is a writer from Harare, Zimbabwe. His work has been published in trampset, The Shore, Surging Tide, Ghost City Review and elsewhere. He enjoys sitcoms and anime. Find him on Instagram and X @FJChaka.



EXPERIENCED DISTANCE

—turn phone to portrait mode to view properly

On my bathroom floor, l wait for the slow hiss

of the apocalypse, curled into the ball

of what my body hollows when bent, my body mute

as my name on the mouths of those who love me

minus the language. 1 rinse the distance between

lips and white light of imagined Mecca—

Mosque washed of scabs and spirals of noise—until

1 try to think of God as all symmetry and curved [      

]. 

The first man l saw die

was half-chewed out of a car, tongue red and running 

for what none of us could sing/ seek/ see for him. 

Spewed across the harshness of the tarmac, his blood

glistened like mine. Who am l to want Heaven, now? All my life

l've watched my loves from kitchens, not knowing what could break

the glass holding us. Last winter, l waited for my mother's footsteps 

by the door mat white with dog's hair, not knowing [

]. 

During the start of my grief, my body cut from itself,

my mother's house was all coffee cups and bush lilies blooming

out of shape, my mother slipping silent between us 

like a thread of silk during meals, my mother's past self

parting soil into rivulets in the garden. What stretched unfastened, then,

was not silence but a loud meaninglessness; to imagine a mother

as elapsed/ erased/ ending wave. Walking around each other in arcs at night,

l watched my father fracture the kitchen lights and, in his pain, he said [

]. 

1 knew that for everyone 

l loved was a blank void for someone l didn't, was God's fisted hands

over clay, was distant ache, was distance, was long days knelt to life's

sharp insistence, was air, was [         ], was wildebeest carved in a field

to find violence, was future absence, was a car rolling off a cliff into noise,

then silence, then [      ]. 1 was reckless with who l held; untouched, skin

smooth like how l remembered what l forgave—wreck-less. All of my love

was fear, all of my love was beautiful like a spiralling [

]. 

And so, at the end, l begin

with God like everything else; half loved and landed into earth, sinking

roots into what will keep me even without knowing. After, God says,

“Begin.” 1 love a mother without knowing the desert of skin, without

knowing when/ where/ how she begins. God says, “Again.” She turns sick,

sickness like a seed, seed like a lump, lump like what grows in a field and

refuses to cede. God says, “Begin.” She leaves. God says, “Begin, again.” God,

how to?



LAKE KARIBA, 2024



The hospital bed is featherweight, the off white walls bland with calm

light. 1 was not trying to swim—l see it now, the way l let water crash

my breath and knead my skin until numb. My shape against the blue

canvas fucking up my understanding of time and space was imagined

heat. 1 let my body slip easy like that, silver flash of a fish let loose

from a spiked hook into stupor and stasis. 1 coughed so much water

on the littered beach it could have been a second dying, a buried spear 

wrecking itself from my chest. But here, the ugly spaces. Here, 

my mouth says nothing when l hold my love’s face. There,

she touches my arm soft; opposite of aftermath. The light outside

is an arrow poised for burst, is ordinary. This is the lie; l did not want

to die.

 

//

 

There is no sunset, simply light limping away from the sky 

to let everything else remain; more shadow, more sleep. The lake 

outside is a seed split open to let its oil spill. 1 am out of myself. Once,

a girl l sauntered up to haze-eyed at a party to dance with, feet

all wrong and misplaced, laughed and whispered, Know yourself. Our touch

felt like reconstruction, like catapulting off-course. My skin is foreign to me

here or there or there. 1 steady the water's rhythm with my eyes,

think of its coldness as a thirsting knife, knife to my skin, skin to allow

for blood to spew, to spray, to spill, again; to Heaven. Know yourself. 

What has happened has happened like a hand flat on my back; both

intimate and threatening. The forest outside is blurred and bruised

where it begins. How to leave and still hold all of this heavy light?

 

//

 

The best part of God is His blank middle circled by antlers

and ferns, my love tells me. The best part is to curl yourself

up and fit. We go out for a walk, our bodies strung on the hope

that when we return, the light will have doused us enough to smooth

out a rift. My love says, you are here. The trees pillar the sky 

and splinter crows into jagged blackness, and everything fits.

The trees stand with a cleanness so sharp it rejects me. 1 am

here. My love clambers ahead, legs spitting distance

for me to swallow. 1 move and let the near whiteness of the sun

falling on water jag my vision. This half blindness. This light

finding me in each landscape like a reflection. This moving

becoming a life of its own. The best part, my love repeats, is to curl.







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