Mr Kentridge said an epileptic could fall this way during a fit. Or someone who had been knocked unconscious might also fall in this way. What he found more difficult to believe was that a conscious man falling to the ground could sustain such an injury.
– from Biko by Donald Woods

I

I can well imagine
the chain of welts across the tongue
and fleshy inside cheek,

his dislocated jaw,
punch-drunk stare,
the prisoner’s naked body

piss-wet,
lying there where he has fallen.
Still to be accounted for.

Two days before Christmas,
his mind on other things,
the district surgeon toes the dotted line,

scribbles down a small, bad thing.
S. Marule, December 23, 1986,
death by epileptic fit.

II

Reading now all the other jokes;
the falls down stairwells,
off Black Marias, the slips on soap,

official reasons given
for death without trial in Afrikaner prisons,
I sense, up close,

a darkness thumping,
a fear of crowds
of flashing lights I can’t shake off,

and hear
their barking, belly-jerking laughter when,
tickled-pink by the thought,

they stood and watched
a black man’s mouth
foaming white, white froth.