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 Old Rangoon (1970)

by Cornelia Rohde

We squat on wooden stools outside crumbling
Scott’s Market, cupping steamy bowls of mohinga
from a street vendor: chunks of river shad,
lemon grass, tender core of banana stem, chili,
pungent shrimp paste, onions laced with rice noodles.

Shafts of light chase shadows from the open stalls.
I watch slanting sunrays burnish
the golden lacquer of a Hintha bird,
teasing glints from its faux-jeweled wings.

“The Hintha is said to eat only pearls. To us,
this bird means love and faith in marriage.”
His tapered fingers offer a slim green cheroot.
The taste is smooth and mild, as clement as his smile.

I savor soup and a smoke with him,
and bring a sacred swan to you.

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.

Between the world and you

by Elizabeth Trew

A world round and full by the lake
as moorhens and grebes
cross the water
the moon full and shy
behind the trees this morning

the world green and teeming
you safe inside your bag of waters
kicking against my hip
I swollen and heavy cross the field
blue eggs nesting
sap rises in the long grass around us

the moment I stumble on a wild thing
its blood rushes and body struggles
to free itself from under my foot
the sky fills with a noisy flurry
and clutter of wings
partridges rising
the hunter on the hill above us
a feather in his hat.

 

 

 

The Monster

by Cornelia Rohde

All I ever wanted out of childhood, was to escape
the monster underneath the bed; the terror of its bony
claw dragging me to darkness. The line in the prayer
my mother taught me: “if I should die before I wake,”
only made me think it highly likely I could be dead by dawn.
 

But when I looked out at the cold clear night
and saw the crescent moon, I’d wonder if the deer
slept warm, and if the coons were cozy in their homes.
The burrow of homemade quilts pulled me into sleep;
yet the next night, when standing at my bedroom
doorway, I’d take a running, flying leap.

a taste of banadilla

by Elizabeth Trew

Right now I’ll take you to an orchard
of rose-yellow mangos
 
bunches of lady-finger bananas
clusters of golden pawpaws, tawny litchis
 
we’ll swallow sweetness
supripe, rainwashed
 
stroll among melons
in the pink fall of plums
 
past my mother’s herbs and father’s granadillas –
purple eggs he trained on the vine
 
we’ll find his banana-granadilla hybrid –
the elusive banadilla of my mother’s story
you don’t believe
 
remove its yellow sleeve, taste its black seeds,
its luscious, imagined fruit.

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.

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.

Take Note

by Annette Snyckers

I am drawn to making lists and writing notes,
wrapping up in words my every day
to record the mundane,
of who had whooping cough when
and the miraculous,
of who passed matric without opening a book.
Also all the sad days when pets died
and the mad elation at the birth of a child.
My life is packed in little black books
in which I can check when it was
you wrote the car off one night
and the hospital called.
I can find things long forgotten,
like the name of every cat I ever loved
and how much I paid
for that dress I bought in Paris.
The time the snake slithered down the passage,
how the bush baby sat on my head
and groomed me every night,
the time it snowed in September,
how you turned blue from that allergy,
even the time I swallowed a fly.

Some dates stayed blank —
not knowing how,
how to live this life.
Dazed days.