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.



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.


by Annette Snyckers

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.


by Lise Day

The blessing of the candles second of February

My Danish grandmother knew
if snowdrops were picked
before Candlemas,
to light dark winter rooms
with their fragile glow
pallid as a flake of fallen snow
and scent of a spring long gone,
there would be a death.

In a bleak January
I searched below the hedge
in the dank moss
between the frost-laced leaves
but I could not find
their gentle flames
that might show the way
to an easier end.

Lament for the Stones

by Annette Snyckers   

No longer sure-footed
after my father’s death,
some days I was brought
to tears
for the smooth round rocks
lying motionless
in the riverbed.

Over millennia they kept still,
had their edges knocked off,
until scoured sleek,
they lie ovoid, oblong, squat
and suffer in stoic silence
the floods and droughts.

Perhaps they delight in the lizards,
the leguan,
the dragonflies,
the dainty steps
of the Klipspringer.

Do you mind if I smoke?

by Michael Keeling

We attended the soiree by invitation
oblivious of the uninvited;
hypertrophic cells
to destroy the tissues of the host.

Upright at the piano
he played for the singer and the song.
Feeding the mood changes
and controlling the tempo;
an underscored significance.

Music scholar, church organist,
choir master, accompanist and tutor,
he had returned to the land
where he belonged,
to devote himself to his beloved music.

And then the shocking news of his collapse;
the body supine
as an empty packet
tossed carelessly aside
with warning words ignored.

Thank you for your playing.
Thank you for your humour and humility.
In answer to your question:
Do you mind if I smoke?
Yes I do.
It killed you.

Mick’s Ashes

by Michael Keeling

Under a darkened sky
soft rain falls gently on the wind

Reefed from turbulent seas
paddlers ring a rock-bound pool,
spokes in a hallowed wheel

In fellowship we stand above,
silent witness to a last request

Prayers in gratitude, linked hands,
strewn ashes stay awhile
then slip beneath red roses

Under a darkened sky
soft rain falls gently on the wind.

What If

by Angela Prew

News of a death, unexpected,
brings pause, a moment of reflection,
in a busy day.
How many years have passed
since you thought of him?
Pictured him?
But now he stands, young, virile
before your unfocused eyes.
The world was filled with promise,
the future glowed, a full moon
on the horizon; yet
a different future lay ahead
for both of you; so now
you look back briefly
at that girl, head packed with dreams
and at that young man
and you wonder.