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  • Fattest Flies, and: Tongues
  • Ronelda Kamfer (bio)
    Translated by Mike Dickman

Fattest flies

there's a new breedof vintage-wearing brown girlsthey started off by straightening their hairand speaking Englishhad Foschini accountsand rode only first class

the type that had boyfriendswhen they were still just burksthat got offendedif I scanned something wrong at the till by Clicksthe type that kept that light skin genein the familythey were the prettiest girlin the townshipthe type that's pretty to coloured peoplethe type that believed an au pair in Europeis a titleand married some unattractive old white guy'cause ambition has a bank accountthat's gotta stay full

till the millennials went onlineand everyone retired their ghd's and Sheen straightenersbought their way back into the ghettoreplaced their Johnny Depps with Idris Elbasand Michelle Obama Lupita Nyong'o and Grace Jonesmade them women of strength

they all know a Alice Walker quotelisten to Jill Scott and supporttheir consciousness movementsthey're trendyinstagram feministsthey protest in their blogsuse words like booty fierce and pro-choice [End Page 18]

they deconstruct every American TV seriesand they're nearly always dumb as shit

when they really get under my skinI remember my ma's wordswhen one of them said I wasn't prettyand made me cry one day

those tarts is like frogs in the rainthey hop from leaf to leaf closer and closerto the latest bowl of kak'cause that's where the fattest flies hang out [End Page 19]


me and my niece were sitting in the clinic one dayher kid had asthma and was therefor the monthly checkupher and me sitting in the middle of a swarm of sick people

then a white woman pitched up with three kidsone—handicapped or something—in a wheelchairone snotnosedhis bare feet black with dirtand the oldest looking fineexcept for the Tourette's

the woman parks the wheelchair next to meand goes and stands in front of everybodyexcuse me can I have everyone's attentionwhere does the line start

my niece looks at meand starts to shake her heada cleaner comes byand looks the white woman up and downsighs and saysthe line ends with youpark your Ferrariout the wayyou're last

a couple of folks gigglethe woman starts to talk to the snotnosed onein a strange languagemy niece asks what language it isand someone behind us answersit's jus' showing off that they talk like disdey donknow how to waitnow they talking in tongues

—translated from the Afrikaans by Mike Dickman [End Page 20]

Ronelda Kamfer

Ronelda Kamfer's debut collection, Noudat slapende honed (Kwela, 2008), received the Eugene Marais award, which she followed up with Grond/santekraam (Kwela, 2011), winner of the 2012 ABSA Kanna award. Her third collection, Hammie (2016), received the ATKV WoordTrofee award. All three collections have been translated and published in Dutch, and an Italian translation of Grond/santekraam will appear in 2018. She is an MA candidate at Rhodes University, and is married to cartoonist and poet Nathan Trantraal, with whom she has a six-year-old daughter named Seymour.