c o n v e r g e n c e:
an online journal of poetry & art




by David Kerr

Kaone inspects her equipment: the ancient Styrofoam swimming float, the broken pair of flip-flops, the chunk of chip-board, her fisherman's needle, a ball of string, some strips of bamboo bark, a stapler, a collection of pine cones and exotic fruit, a coil of wire, a bicycle inner tube, and the hill of Kikuyu grass recently mown by Tsholo, her step-father. Finally, she spreads out her collection of ten dirty plastic bags, laid in a line like dead soldiers. One of these is smaller than the others, and it makes her smile in a way that only Downs Syndrome children can radiate. Then she starts to work, her thirteen year old hands maneuvering swiftly.

She stuffs the first bag with grass and uses string to stitch on two mango leaf ears, a morula fruit nose, and, most cunningly, a granadilla skin mouth gaping into a scream. She wires the head to the Styrofoam float (now becoming a man's torso), and stuffs each of the remaining plastic bags with grass, to make fat-sausage shapes closed tight with the stapler. Four tubes make two arms wired to the shoulders of the float, and then she transforms the other four bags into legs fastened at the hip. To each ankle she wires a flip-flop. Grass Man is nearly ready.

While Kaone is having a short rest Tsholo comes out onto the lawn and admires the sculpture. Kaone says nothing, and Tsholo, rebuffed, goes back into the house. Kaone takes a strip of bamboo bark and ties it round Grass Man's torso, which makes the limbs stick out and the head pull to one side. She glues the whole sculpture onto the chip-board.

She cuts off one piece of the inner tube and lays it to one side. The larger part she fills with wire, one end of which she attaches to the man's torso. The rest of the snake she coils round the man till the other end faces his mouth. She slits open the end of the snake to make a gaping jaw, held open with wire and displaying two venomous pine teeth. She glues a tough leaf to the mouth to make a slit tongue.

Kaone turns her attention to the man. She takes the remaining piece of inner tube and attaches it to the groin of the torso to make a grotesque, erect penis. She pastes some glistening pine gum onto the end of the penis, then pastes more onto the tongue of the snake, soon to poison its encircled victim. Kaone picks up the finished sculpture and places it on a garden table. She claps for this handiwork, and the whole garden echoes with her cold laughter.

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