Nobuhle is late

Nobuhle is late,
her great-aunt said.
She will not be on time to take her ARVs.*
She will not add weight to those fragile limbs,
her dusty, battered skin will never gleam,
her cloud of thin, brittle hair will not thicken
and grow strong.
She has flown
from that window through which she gazed,
flown over the white painted rocks
across the Winterberg.

Nobuhle is late.
She will not smile again, quizzically,
cynically, at me.
Her frail beauty will not dance through
heart and home
nor lighten the lives of the children
she cared for.

Her boyfriend, she said, did not visit her,
as she lay wasting.
He was very late.
Her family, she said, did not visit her.
They came, but they too were late.
And we, we who visited her for our own purposes,
and so nearly brought, similarly,
some strangely obliging molecules to
fight the minute swarming devils within her;
we were late.
The doctor, who cheerfully harangued her
for becoming ill, was late.

We were all late,
and so, now,
Nobuhle is late.

19.1.04

* Antiretrovirals, a treatment for AIDS.

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