by Elizabeth Trew

My aunt spoke loud in her Nordic lilt –
louder when she was on the phone,
louder and slower when
she spoke to me.

She was dark stockings and boots
that strode down the hill
and knelt among sheep.
She was mended fishing nets.

We’d sit out in summer under the trees
with a jug of home-made juice.
Inside her house she’d look long
through glass at the waterfall
across the fjord.
Today he is big and strong, she’d say, or
Today he flows softer than before.

She was the steady gaze and the force
of falling water,
a keeper of nets and sheep
and new-laid eggs.
She was mid-summer bonfires along the fjord
and the stamp of boots that carried wood
for the indoor fire.
She was hearty soups and stews came
from her steamy kitchen.
She’d call me to lay the table.
Come eat! Eat and be strong, she’d say.



by Annette Snyckers

On those days
I ran about the garden
like a wild foal,
my father was convinced
that little devils nested
in my mane.

White sheet draped
over small shoulders,
I was made to sit
so he could snip
to exorcise the sprites
who whispered in my ears.

I emerged bobbed,
cut straight,
in step.


by Cornelia Rohde

Sound the hanging bell
in warm temple air redolent
with burnt oil, incense, sweat.
Slip your shoes off. Enter.

Offer strings of roses, jasmine
wound with gold and silver thread,
small vessels of rice, dal,
chopped sugar cane, curds.

Polished brass ornaments catch
gleams from myriad tiny flames.
Priests chant mantras, wave
trays of glowing diyas.

One sprinkles water before
the unmoving eyes
of the god he has fed, dressed,
soothed, pleased, beguiled.

He dips his thumb in red
sandalwood paste. His single
stroke between my eyebrows
draws my mind to grace.



by Angela Prew

Forty years of marriage
to a naval man
meant forty years of living
near the sea.
Our children learnt as babies
to swim like fish, to surf and dive
to treat those waters with respect
and know their force.

After school, we left the Cape
to spend four years in Bloemfontein;
four dry years without a drop of rain.
Water trickled out of taps, two inches in a bath.
We learnt not to waste, but our fruit trees died,
the fishpond dried;
when, finally, it rained, we ran outside
to find the skies cried mud.

Now, after many years living
on a sea-girt land, we have a drought;
no rain falls from the sky, the fields are dry,
our councilors, much younger than I,
wring their hands and cry,
What should we do…?


by Michael Keeling

It’s the road to nowhere
in a landscape of light
where shade is the brim of your hat

It’s a turbulent sea
of greenish-blue
on spray-breaking rocks

It’s the white sand
of an endless shore
under cloudless skies

It’s the shimmering mirage
of expectation
and the joy of arrival

It’s the mountain pass,
the winding track
and the exhilaration of being

It’s the trees, the shrubs,
the audacious flowers
on a multicoloured carpet

It’s the undulating
cheetah’s back
in pursuit of buck

It is, above all, the space,
the emptiness enclosed
in distant purple mountains

Colours of Water

by Lise Day

Glacial green snow-melt of a Northern sea
pushing into the ice-carved fjord
Black velvet at midnight the warm Thai ocean
spangled fluorescence of fallen stars
Bronze-brown the ooze between my toes
the Vaal river of childhood adventure
Chalky lime water collected and still
the Silent pool in Surrey hills
Lake Malawi spread-eagled under African sky
crystal fragments tiny fish darting
Sapphire seas wash Greek island shore
sunlight and shadows submerged in the deep
Coppery bloom of rain washed silt
unfurls from the river mouth newly open
Cut-glass green the Plitvisk Lakes of Croatia
tree trunks bleached to fossil fingers
Dark the mystery of a Scottish loch
salmon leap ladders flicks of light
Silver bright the Boulders pool
Penguins dressed in their best black and white
Brak water gift of the mountain mist
precious amber flow of my garden stream
Shiny shimmering breaking reflecting
water, celebrate the spectrum, flow.

The Danger of a Single Story

by Lise Day

Africa is not one huge dusty country
of rolling grasslands and herds of beasts,
populated by tall, thin, starving people
or sad babies with swollen bellies.

African’s cuisine of choice is not
monkey-brain, stuffed-snake-skin.
Every meal not hunted by packs of dogs
or naked tribesman with bow and arrow.

Africa’s health system does not comprise
only throwing of bones by witchdoctors.
It is not just a country rife with Aids and Ebola
genital mutilation and botched circumcisions.

Africa is not to be pitied, or dominated.
It is not merely a land of conflict and corruption.
We have pride and confidence and are not
longing to be saved by a kind white foreigner.


by Elizabeth Trew

She is crafting something new
out of the clay
on her potter’s wheel –
some ghost of her past
curled into a ball

using water to soften
it ripples its skin in time
with the hum:
a small death of yesterday
taking residence today.

I remember your meaty breath
on my face
as you bent down with a kiss:
as I lean over to inhale
your last yeasty breaths
to savour, exhale, and kiss the sky.

The women consoled and held her.
“I don’t know where to be!”
a mother cries out in shattered grief.
All she can see
are her tears in a leaden sky.
She will find somewhere
to pave her daughter’s lyrical step
in the rustle of leaves
and sound of bells.

I will paint my old friend in sombre colours
lying on his bitter green robe of grass
with a harsh white cloth over his face.
And his rooster in radiant shades of cinnabar,
the earth brown, and the bluish-green
rhythm of hills gently receding.

Yes or No?

by Annette Snyckers

the tiny frog sits
between the petals of a rose –
I almost missed him
so small and pale
his bulging eyes stare in slits
into this springtime morning –
the only sign of life
just a throbbing heartbeat
at his throat.

Perhaps he’s merely warming up
now that he’s left his tadpole tail
back in the pond –
or perhaps he lingers
enchanted by the fragrance,
the apricot and amber
of his petalled cave.
He seems to be listening inwards.

Frog thoughts take time –
(some days even mine)
will he leap, or will he stay
a Buddha for a day?