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Law Enforcement

Topseup, Pbutsi, and Namacuh went to town

To the tent city

Where the taibos

Had set up their place

It was strange

Row after row of identical tents

There was no way to know

If you were walking into the house of some white lady who would chase you out with a broom

Or a man with cloth and candy and heaps of strange fruit

Or even a man with a printing press

Making newspapers

Or white women in their strange underclothes selling whiskey, beer, and coffee

Topseup, Pbutsi, and Namacuh

Saw the pile of bright fruit

Colored like persimmons

But with thick skins and their own delicious flavor

What a wonderful nice man with so much delicious fruit to share with everyone

Topseup, Namacuh, and Pbutsi filled their pbeets'a'kweena

The aprons in the front of their dresses with them

Until the man began to shout

Then chase them

Topseup turned pelting him with his own fruit

But Pbutsi held onto her prize

On the other side of the tent city, past the reach of the fruit man

Namacuh who had a better grasp of white ways gave a white boy a coin for a newspaper

She read the pages, translating as she went,

Before passing the thin paper to her sisters to wipe their hands on

"It says here

A white woman

Was returned to her husband by the police

After she ran away with another man"

Pbutsi shook her head

"Why did they do that?" Topseup wanted to know

Namacuh turned the pages rapidly

"It says the policemen think she ran away

because her husband beat her earlier in the day," she said

"The story ends with 'The police have suggested the woman has earned herself another beating"

"Doesn't she have any male relatives to kill him for her?" Pbutsi asked

"She should just kill him herself," Topseup said putting a segment of fruit in her mouth

"Then she can go with whatever man she likes."

"What I don't understand," Namacuh said reaching for her own piece of fruit "Is why the police brought her back"

"Uncle would never try to make a woman go with a husband she didn't want anymore," Pbutsi said

"If he did" Namacuh said "They wouldn't let him be a police man anymore"

Pbutsi nodded with her mouth full

"No one would vote for him,"  Topseup agreed

"Except maybe the husband

He brought her back to

Then he would have to

I don't know

Raise turkeys or something"

The sisters all laughed 

At the image of their mother's brother surrounded by turkeys

"Maybe white police men are just bad," Topseup said

As they got up to find their mother

She was gambling somewhere

In one of the sea of canvas tents

They hoped she won lots of money


Piles of it

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