What star is that in the sky? If you know you should mail us. Thursday night during the closing party for SHOESHOP, Johannes and I were here to see Bishop Verryn to ask for his blessing for Jodi Bieber's work about Mozambiquan refugees to be installed on the wall of the building facing Pritchard Street in Joburg. This is the outside of the Central Methodist Church in Hillbrow. Soon we would also be silhouettes, inside where hundreds of homeless people take shelter at night from what happens if you are not deemed to belong within borders you had nothing to do with, unless you count being born.
That could be you.
Inside. So could this be you. It could be a man who was on the train from Lindela being deported back home that you can see if you go see Jodi's exhibition.
This is not you I know that. On the ground floor of the church though he caught my eye. Johannes kept talking about his bag. I went to meet him and he said he understood me but he did not say his name or any other words I understood except for "free loom". I told him my name and I said comprend a few times until I felt ridiculous. He is beautiful. I asked him to write his name for me.
He wrote fast. Like a writer. A paragraph. I could be him. So could you. Neither of us are. There but for the grace ...
What is this? Must I send a letter? Is his name here? What addresses are these? Where does this man belong? Who cares about him enough? We are in a movie. We take his precious words and climb the stairs, over the piss, where we can see it. There is little light and none on the last stairwell where we find our way by feelings. Later Johannes tells me the smell reminded him of somewhere he worked long ago. I say it is rank. He says it is not. Sometimes I see shadows on his face.
We show the Bishop Jodi's whole show. Outside his office, maybe thirty people are waiting to see him. He says they are all coming to share their stories with him and each other. We could be them. We are them. I ask the Bishop about the man downstairs and his assistant Cleopatra tells us he writes on everything. I ask if he is an artist and show the Bishop his paragraph. He asks me if I will try and work it out. Perhaps it is code. I say yes. The Bishop says yes. The next day Cleopatra says he has lived there (well, at night, no one is allowed there during the day) for many years. They do not know where he is from. She says no one knows his name but she knows where to find him in the daytime near Doregos.