"Sweet Dreaming Spirit"
by Richard Dey 

after a sculpture by Richard Mteki*
I have chanced upon you
resident in this rock
here in the highlands
chanced before my eyes
to have you in my own hands rise
out of this hard fragment
as morning mist rises from a stream
transforming it into what it always was

Sweet dreaming spirit, Ancestor
now that your likeness has been revealed
in this smooth still rock
let your grace radiate from it
and guide whose hungry anxious eyes
chance to feast on you

*The Shona people in the highlands of the Inyanga Mountains in East Africa believe that spirits dwell in inanimate materials and, more specifically, that these spirits are their ancestors. For Mteki, making this sculpture was less an act of seeing a figure in the stone and carving it to realize what was already there. "Sweet Dreaming Spirit" is from the twentieth century, courtesy of the Epstein Family Collection.

Copyright © 1999 Whitecap Brothers.


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