by Lise Day
For my sister and brother-in-law whose
house was burnt to the ground in the Knysna fires.
It was the coral cups of a thousand clivias
that smouldered in the woodland garden.
The only flame that flitted between the trees
the quick flash of loerie’s scarlet wing.
Rows of shining bottles glinted gold
holding pungent fynbos honey
collected by bees in hills, purple-clad,
encircling the mirror lagoon.
Inside the gentle flicker of candle light
flower shades, white curtains
Danish simplicity of taste.
Medals marking children’s triumphs
ribboned in proud display;
Recipe books with pages splattered
memories of delicious meals;
Gleaming hard pear and yellowwood
a corner chewed by errant dog;
The green dress worn to a family wedding;
Mementoes from world-wide travel;
Treasures, no longer useful
but too hard to give away;
Paintings collected, overlooked
in every-day but remembered now;
Grandmother’s stinkwood dresser;
The bubbles suspended in Lille’s glasses;
The familiar taken-for-granted stuff
that marks your passage through your past.
But loved ones, family, dogs are safe.
The sum of life is not measured
by the totting up of our possessions.