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.

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Firsthand

by Annette Snyckers

Eyes can lie,
but hands reveal
through skin and sinew
veins and nails
grip and grasp
stroke and strike
how young, how old
how careful, how fearful
how kind, how cold
how tense
how tender.

Yes or No?

by Annette Snyckers

Motionless
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?

Thirst

by Annette Snyckers

One warm day follows another
into what we used to call winter.
No rain falls,
dams dry up.

We buy bottled water,
hoard the plastic bottles
in cupboards like treasures –
to be rationed out
in the small blue glasses
I keep for special occasions —
on that inconceivable day
when the taps
spit
only
air.

I also buy a string of glass beads,
cold under my fingers,
pale turqoise
like the ice of a glacier.
I hang them
above the basin.
I touch them
to remind me
of water.

Appropriation

by Annette Snyckers

What I really wanted
was the forest,
that fecund place –
it smelled of damp decay –
where spots of sunlight sifted
through the green of spring.

I took it for myself,
let suspicion fall
where it may –
after all,
they left it in the shed,
perhaps they didn’t
even care.

Just before I fall
asleep, I can almost hear
the wind in the trees,
the rustling leaves –

the painting hangs
above my bed.

 

Realization

by Annette Snyckers

Sometime
between high summer
and days dwindling
to autumn, I noticed
a small cloud, a mere wisp,
it steadily grew and gathered
some scattered relatives from afar.
They cast ever-changing shadows
on the open ground below.
Up high, watching
from the silent glider
of my thoughts,
the land was beautiful —
flecked as a Nguni cow.

But here, back among the dying,
the leaves are turning,
the days shrink.
I look up, see
the gathering grey —
and wait for the storm
to break.

Rift

by Annette Snyckers

I could attempt
the journey
to your world,
but it seems so far,
so difficult,
and even if
arrival was possible,
you might stop me
at passport control,
have me searched
for ulterior motives,
refuse entry.

Then,
on barren soil
delusions would bloom,
disputes flourish,
wounds bleed seeds.

In the end
the harvest
bitter,
and we,
the reapers —
the losers.

Conversation

by Annette Snyckers

Next to the dusty road you stand,
your friendly eyes crinkled
in the midday sun –
you open your mouth;
words clatter out like pebbles
in a fast-flowing stream –
sibilants hiss and splatter,
consonants clap.
I ask the way
and your finger points far
beyond the hills.

I listen,
but I hear only your voice
and the wind in the grass,
I look across the veld
but my eyes cannot follow
the way of your tongue –
I am lost
because I do not
understand what you say –
I am lost
in a land we both love.