Things I used to want

by Pamela Newham

Uncomfortable shoes just because they’re pretty.
Starter, Main and Dessert.
Going to bed late. Getting up late.
Reading newspapers. Watching the News.
Giving dinner parties. Giving advice.
Catching an interested man’s eye.
Dancing until the early hours.
Touching an interesting man’s hand.
Ah that…

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In Praise of Everyday

by Lise Day

‘What day is it?’ asked Pooh.
‘It’s today’ squeaked Piglet
‘My favourite day’ said Pooh
 
just an ordinary morning
when the mist
slouches through the kloof
loiters in the garden
mingling in wet buchu scent

just a little lunch
sweet basil picked fresh
baby tomatoes
cool white wine from
the vineyard in my road

just a quiet day
when the high drama
life’s frenzy
is safely trapped
between the covers
of my book

just a calm evening
as the sluggish stream
catches the last light
children’s voices distant
butterflies in the dusk

my house

by Lise Day

We lived on the middle floor
many rooms, airy, comfortable
wallpapered with words
curtained with laughter.
Space for three children
two black dogs
a one-eyed cat
and a husband.

Beneath a trapdoor
is the cellar,
dank and dark,
with room for nasty secrets
to clink in corners.
I hate to descend
the steep steps
to this underworld.

Now I live alone in the loft
open skylights let in sun and stars
to allow poems to float up.
Paint flows from my fingers
daubing bright walls,
the doors unlocked, the stairs broad,
I stand on my patchwork rug
and stretch my arms wide.

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.

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.

The Trunk

by Angela Prew

The trunk had lain, unopened,
for sixty years or more.
Wondering what it held, I searched
and found the key,
creaked it open, peered inside;
books were there, long out of date.
Matric history teaching of a land
that never was, facts altered by ambitious men,
telling of white conquests in black Africa;
propaganda for the young.
Novels fell out, carefully packed,
favourites of teenage years.
Shoes, once fashionable, acme
of my sixth form taste, lay at my feet.
Dresses, good material, I could
use to sew new clothes;
a blazer, worn with pride, the legend
still shining on the pocket: Junior Hockey Team.
I held it up against me, eyes unfocussed, remembering.
‘Gran,’ the girl beside me cried,
‘It fits me, may I have it please?
On Saturday, I’ll wear it to the dance.’
Delighted, she ran to show it to her friends.