Handwriting

by Elizabeth Trew

They found you alive in the morgue,
scars on your tough, battered face
from your head-on crash

re-set nose, cheekbone and jaw
stitched back your skin
your head held in place by a cage

Sis! somebody said to you in your cage
Go for plastic surgery, your mother begged

choosing instead a far country
to mend post-office mailbags  alone
A blackbird sang to me all summer long, you said

Back home sunburn imprinted on skin
mending mailbags again in the courtyard jail

when I caught your first tear behind soundless glass
in the visitor’s room, our country apart in a cage

Writing to me from your cell
I dreamed of your tear and your head

tough builder’s hands, the flight of birds
song of your chest, sheen of your back

dovetailing raisin-sweet salt,
decades mending skin

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June

by Elizabeth Trew

June – my small sister, born in her month of rain
and in her second year
her month of death.

My mother never spoke of June.
Pain and death, she’d say, does not exist.
No doctor crossed her path.

June became a sunny picture done in coloured chalks.
She sits in a daisy field smiling out with dimpled cheeks.
She holds a flower between the rains of June.

I know a little about her death,
how barbed wire had snagged her flesh
and gushed its poison through her blood

turning her too deeply green.
I’d overhear dark mutterings from aunts
how a doctor could have saved her life.

all the flowers in my mother’s garden
bowed their heads as rainfall filled the sky that day
and soaked her earth with blood

I never knew what her Bible said,
know nothing about her silent grief.
Enough that I was born replacing June.

The Way Things Are

by Lise Day

No, the potty train does not stop at this station.
Your Rosie doll’s hair will not grow back.
We cannot hand your sister in to the library
when the new baby arrives home in the car.
I am your mother and that is the way things are.

I say no because I say so and that is that.
White milk does not come from white cows,
nor chocolate milk from brown cows.
You cannot catch a moonbeam nor a falling star.
I am your mother and that is the way things are

Lmno is not one letter in the alphabet song.
However much you talk you will never run out of words.
Waves are not made by wallowing whales.
Sharks will not leap from sea to beach, it is too far.
I am your mother and that is the way things are

Even when you are ten you will not be as old as your sister.
Chick peas have nothing to do with chicks on the loo.
Wild coast tortoises cross the road for excitement.
Your spotty kitten will never grow to be a jaguar.
I am your mother and that is the way things are

The queen does not wear her crown all day.
Buzz saws are not bears snoring in the woods.
Spanish dancers who stamp and fling dresses
are not angry with the man on the guitar.
I am your mother and that is the way things are now.

There is no cloud it is just another computer.
Cookies and Rasberry pi and spam
Worms, zips and dongles are inside your ram.
You need a debugger to defrag you somehow,
I am your son and that’s the way things are now.

Bolt

by Annette Snyckers

On summer afternoons
when flies were lazy
and the hours lame,
I was supposed to lie down,
rest in my room —
when my mother took a nap;
all I wanted was out.

In the passage
creaking floorboards
lay waiting
to snap at my heels,
but I held my breath,
stepped over them,
and only exhaled
when I reached
the dining room.

Out, out,
over the fence
into the veld —
crushed grass
and khaki bush,
turtle dove
and hoepoe,

sun
budding my wings.

Suicide with Dogs

by Pamela Newham

How quiet you must have been as you locked
the bedroom door behind you.
How happy they must have been when you
walked into the kitchen.
Thought it was time for a walk
as you dragged their tatty blanket
and laid it on the backseat,
put in place the flexible hose,
climbed in with them.
Closed the door.

Did you need their trusting eyes
to get you through it?
Or
Did you take them because you knew
he’d miss them more?

Variant

by Cornelia Rohde

Puffer fish are angst.
Spotted eagle rays are grace;
lion fish, serial killers in lace.
Nudibranches are finesse.
The sea slug is a wet baguette.

Cuttlefish are sorcery.
Sand dollars, faith;
Green turtles, song.
The conch is patience;
the octopus, sentience.

Sea urchins are all appetite.
Dolphins, a surge of delight.
Sea-horses, a whisper of bliss.
The Man o’ War is a Viking adrift.
The horseshoe crab, a clone of Darth Vader.

The great white shark is peerless vanity.
The whale is the keeper of collective sanity.

 

The Poet Gardener

by Lise Day

It’s spring time in the garden
so much to be done, words
are blooming, phrases unfurling.
First I rake the little ands, buts, ors,
that have fallen in the night.
Then I plant some new words
filemot, succus, petrichor.
Sow tiny seeds of up, to and be,
Forage for misplaced apostrophes.
I fiercely prune the adjectives
awesome, breathtaking, miraculous,
weed the beds of azure, bliss and hue,
cut back the blossoms of ethereal,
trim the quiescent underfoot.
I graft me and up to pick
to cultivate a pick-me-up,
splice free and sugar to grow
the ever popular sugar-free.
In the hothouse exotic buds
Of hygge, kummerspeck, tartle
are bursting into bloom.
Finally I mulch a layer
of accord, commit and utter.
I anticipate a copious harvest
of ripe and ready words
which I will gather in and store
to sustain me in the winter.

(After Temenos September 2016)

A farm story

by Elizabeth Trew

All carefully kept on the sisters’ dairy farm:
two giant eucalypts – beloved and long dead
stand by the old house, now a Bed and Breakfast.
I arrive at dusk. Bees are busy
making honey inside a dead trunk,
Kei apples have fallen, lie under their trees,
guineafowl have flown into the pines to sleep
while calves in the herd gambol in the field.
All so very beautiful, one sister says to me
as she takes me through the house
of many ageing things all kept with care.
An old white wedding dress
hangs inside my room. I open a tin of hairpins
belonging to the bride.
I lie awake and feel the wind-mill turn and creak,
the bone-white trees and wedding dress
loom inside the night.
Between the living and the dead loveliness is there.