Wall

by Lise Day

I like these stones
round in my palms
demanding none of my skills
but the placing

Table Mountain sandstone
sun-warm boulders
required only to stay
where they’re put

Low winter sun
on my shoulders
packing a wall
putting down roots

Bright vygie crevices
gecko tanning ledges
rock hopping toddlers
inhabit my wall

Not to keep flowers in
nor peacocks out
just defining my space
is what it’s about.

Symphony

by Lise Day

The train rattles through the suburbs
scented gush of spring air
whooshes in the open space
whooshes in the open space
‘No Leaning on the Doors’
we wouldn’t if we could.
A shriek of brakes – we erupt
into the melee of Cape Town Central
crumbling chaos, workmen
overlay grubby green tiles
faux marble gleaming expanse
for the twenty-ten world cup.
Dance a few steps sway my hips
the street music moves my feet
past the hustle herbalist eager to
‘Bring Back my Virginity in one Day’.
Flower sellers explode the alley
colour, scent of lilies, roses vie
with snoek and hake and chips.
Plink a coin in the cup
of the blind man singing
dodge cacophony of taxis
enter ‘Exit only’ side door
edifice of the city hall.
Here the ancient marble’s real
tiny intricate mosaics underfoot
chandeliers reflect a morning sunbeam.
Players, vulnerable without their formal starch,
tune instruments, chat, drink coffee
the conductor raises a slender baton
silence
then Beethoven wells and swells
envelopes us in harmony
My Africa

 

at the kirstenbosch café

by Lise Day

The woman at the next table
glances over and says:
‘I love the sound of women’s laughter’

And I think
it’s not coarse
like the laughter of men in pubs
or forced
in response to stand-up comics
it’s not a snigger
at another’s misfortune
nor is it entirely innocent
as a child’s giggle

It’s our shared delight
which wafts upwards
through the honey-bush scent
briefly tangled in the pin cushion proteas
before floating free to the blue mountain.

Long Tom

by Angela Prew

Long, certainly, six feet five he tells me,
with feet to match: thirteens,
do they make thirteens?
The chunky teen has stretched
into the slim man, returning
home to us each evening
sharing tales of sad derangement,
of people driven manic
living like rats in their handmade shacks.

His spirit of adventure drives him
round this unfamiliar peninsula
climbing Table Mountain, riding
trains to distant corners, unfazed
by stories of assaults,
of attacks for cellphones.
Of murder and mayhem.
Yet underneath his pillow, as I change
his sheets for laundry, I find
a much hugged teddy bear.

A Day in the Hood

by Cornelia Rohde

Today is like any other day.
Some windows are open. Some windows are shut.
The dog wants to go out, or wants to come in.
The coffee is hot. Under the blue sky,
a char passes by, shoed in fuchsia,
the color of bougainvillea spilling above her.
A man in a Panama hat drapes himself across
two equatorial youth bantering in French,
who lift their noses to the scent of bergies’
stale sweat blended with woodsmoke.
One bin-picker doffs his plucked pirate’s hat.
Jani sits on a park bench strewing seeds to pigeons;
her six dogs as creaky and cranky as she is,
indifferent to the fashion shoot of a skeletal model,
sculpted into a transparent sheath dress,
her breasts painted blue; unfazed
by the tall, broad man swinging his bum-length
dreadlocks past the deep-throated singer
lifting hymns into an old oak tree’s limbs.

Tonight, I will look over the rooftops at the new moon
melting off the edge of Lion’s Head.

Cape Town Icon

by Cornelia Rohde

Not every city can dream up as many uses for
a four lane flyover
ending abruptly in a precipice
as Cape Town can.

Angry voters view it as a gangplank for venal politicians.
Winter sport crazies call it an ideal takeoff ramp for acrobatic skiers,
(if, by some miracle, the town experiences snow).
Designers imagine transforming it into a hanging waterfall.
Extreme sport fans point out it could compete with Storms River
for launching bungee jumpers.
Diplomats see it as a place to practice brinkmanship.
Squabbling families plot to shove
annoying relatives over the edge.
Arrive Alive insists it’s the best place
to test the brakes of Golden Arrow buses.
Movie buffs picture James Bond hanging off the end
with a gritty villain stomping on his fingers.
Sex therapists believe it will cure bored lovers
with the thrill of a cliff-hanging moment
as they hurtle into space.

But almost everyone agrees,

if you don’t know where you’re going,
and you don’t know where you’ve been,
a town with a road to nowhere
is the ideal place to live.

Winter Mountain

by Angela Prew

I love the mountain
for the waterfalls that mark a passage
down its side.
Tears on a loved, familiar face
that flow, unchecked
and then are gone leaving little trace.

On other days, the clouds
mist kloofs and crags
casting veils;
a dancer baring
here an ankle, there a shoulder,
momentarily her face.

A storm arrives
casting its black cloak
over gentle, rounded contours,
muffling clean, clear lines.
She hides her face
until the sun returns
jewelling her in rainbows.

The clear, blue winter days
bring her close
each line clear-etched;
a draughtsman’s sketch
two-dimensional, the backdrop
for a constant drama.

Windy Days: a sonnet

by Elain Edwards

The South–Easter has howled throughout the night
Shaking the windows and rattling the door,
Dear Lord, the sound is one that I abhor,
it seems like ghosts are wailing out in fright.
During the day my new-washed sheets take flight,
flap from my hands to land up on the floor,
or wind around the line in knots before
I subdue them and peg them down so tight.
But that same wind that roars around my head,
is joy to many surfers out at play.
They ply their kites like seasoned matadors.
Beneath their sails of purple, blue or red,
they race before the waves at Little Bay
and in the wind’s embrace they swoop and soar.

Poem for My Self

by Cornelia Rohde

If I could, I would give
you great elms
arching your road, fog
strips in the valley at
dawn,
tapped maple syrup to drop
in crisp snow drifts.

I would give
you golden oak
floors, a deep fireplace,
a black cat to comfort your lap,
or to curl near
bright buttercups
where windows
stretch to the floor.

I would give
you crocks of applebutter,
dinner plate peonies,
barrels of cider,
clumps of tart rhubarb,
bushes exploding with blueberries,
crisp currants, lush raspberries,
lawns buzzing
with clover, rows of bright corn.

I would give
you fields dipped in daisies,
pert black-eyed susans,
woods deep with violets
and trillium,
an owl with her young,
croaking frogs in a pond,
a collie’s ear to murmur your troubles.

I would call you
home
with the sawing of crickets,
the clear trill of the wren,
a hand rung brass farm bell.

Instead,
I give you the call of a muezzin,
the boom of a noon gun,
the deep moan of a foghorn,
the stone wall of a mountain,

all of it drenched
in the piquant scent
of Yesterday, Today,
and Tomorrow.