Life Outside

by Angela Prew

Now we live on the Main Road
where, passing beneath our window,
we have a constant parade.
two busy periods occur week-daily;
early traffic starts at dawn,
a queue of lorries, vans and cars,
and a steady stream of trailers from the bottling plant
bustle into town.
Occasional bursts of hooting or sirens
draw us to the windows or wake us from our rest
and, from time to time, sounds of collisions
and wails as ambulances, rescue vans, police cars
speed up to clear the road of battered people,
animals and goods no longer fit for sale.
The traffic thins out after nine
as the workers line up, slowly, to return home.
Matches enliven the quiet weekends,
cricket and rugby, both played at our rear.
We know at once which side has won
by the time and volume of noise.
For us, the old, whose limbs have stiffened,
there is constant amusement outside.

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The Heart of the Matter

by Lise Day

Today I cooked an artichoke
which is really a bitter thing
needing garlic for sweetness,
oil for softness, lemon for zing.

I eat it in the evening hush
after a day of swirling wind
from each petal
scrape the good
discard the tip of gall.
I think it’s like my life –
outer leaves leathery
resilient as my youth,
the inner segments
mushy middle-age.
Then, suddenly the choke,
a hairy knob of awfulness
I incise it carefully
discard it chop chop.

Now relish the succulent
sweet heart of maturity,
and the best part
of an artichoke is,
all that comes after
tastes even better.

Myself

by Angela Prew

The thatch on top is white as snow,
has been for many years,
though long ago it was black and curled.
The face below looks like a fruit
from the apple tree, wrinkled
and somewhat bashed about.
Peering out, through spectacles,
blue eyes, no longer large, survey
the scene. Teeth twinkle white
but, alas, are no longer mine,
Once, long ago, my height drew eyes
as I walked, long-legged, along the street;
now, four inches shorter, sore of feet
I creep, unwatched, from shop to shop.
Yet would I return to those long past years?
No, that girl had so much living to do.
I’m happy as I am.

Missing

by Angela Prew

I’m losing my mind
since my return from McGregor
and the poetry I heard there.
Or, maybe now that our spare room
is emptied of relatives and friends,
now that my time is my own,
days unoccupied have taken their toll
leaving my mind free of figures.
Figures…..those essential to modern living
have gone, left without trace. But
I can still cook and drive our car,
I can talk, make our bed, do the laundry.
So many plusses.
But how I miss those figures….

Essential Papers

by Angela Prew

How many people, I wonder,
lie in bed, memory gone, awareness lost,
at crucial times in their lives.
Now, memory returned,
we know you failed,
at that time,
that time between life and death,
to renew permission to live with me
in this, my pleasant land.

We rushed to put it right, to the office
where they sent us across town
to another office where,
snowed under with requests,
they put your papers
into a file under many others
and there they stayed.
We visited on the given day
every month,
but no movement was detected.

Four months, many phone calls later,
they noticed your age, signed the papers.
Back to the first office, across town,
where, they said, your papers were now filed
in Pretoria.
Delays followed. They moved to bigger offices
and, again, we sit,
waiting……

Gastronomy

by Michael Keeling

These days everything’s about diet.
Banting’s in town; eat anything you like
except carbs. Well, a little bit of pasta’s OK occasionally.

Me? I’m not a pasta man but I do need spuds.
Can go wild over roasted with the Sunday joint.
(That’s joint as in meat.)

Gave up sugar years ago, in the 70s, when the price rocketed.
Total protest ban in our house and not an added grain since.
Miracle of miracles food began to taste!

A little like giving up smokes I’m told but
there’s a habit I never started;
a) tasted awful, b) who’d trade a good movie for a drag?

Booze is another story. I have been known to get smashed.
Long ago now though. Dotage breeds caution.
A little wine, a little whisky, a glass of Pimm’s on a hot summer’s day…..

Another thing. All my working life I had two eggs for breakfast,
a glass of full-fat milk and definitely butter not margarine.
If it wasn’t for genetics I should make 100!

How to get High on a Friday Morning at the U3A Art Group

by Lise Day

It’s a cold morning as we arrive old and grey
straggle in burdened with canvas and board
used yoghurt cups, ice-cream bakkies, jam jars
brushes and pencils, spiky and stiff.
We invade the stale air of the dining room
with lingering smells of last night’s fish.
Carefully spread our plastic protectors
so no drops of paint on carpeted floor.

We squeeze our fat tubes, paint blobs out
Raw sienna, burnt umber, lemon yellow
shrieking orange for Tony’s stripey cat.
May mixes cobalt and ultramarine blue
for a paradise island shimmering scene.
Madeleine talks of internet dating
as she paints a hibiscus in opera pink.
Sylvia, who brings her little dog Boo,
brings life to a parrot crimson and green.
I choose water colours which psychedelic
run and merge messy and quick.
No problem with flops, just flip over paper
begin again on the other side.
saturated with colour, intent on creation
we are heady with turps, high on inspiration.

Old Girls

by Pam Newham

 We stare into each other’s eyes.
The old warthog and me.
Her bristles have thinned.
Her high-heel hoofs chipped.
Her tusks ground down.
She’s a bit battered.
A bit worn.
Alone now.
No babies to tug
her drooping teats.
Pretty near the end, I’d say.
Perhaps a leopard’s coup de grace?
More likely a slow wasting away.
Her eyes say, that’s how it is, old girl,
that’s how it is for us all.

Was I happy?

by Angela Prew

A study has been published suggesting that 23 and 69 are the two happiest years.

Can I remember twenty-three? Just.
Was I happy? I don’t think so.
New marriage, husband at sea, family
on another continent, I remember
learning to be lonely, seldom happy.

Sixty-nine is easier to picture, nearer in time.
A year spent in euphoria;
snatched meetings, hushed phone calls, a new love;
alternating with misery;
a breaking marriage; forty years packed into boxes.

No, not sixty-nine but seventy
was the happiest year for me.