The Spinney Retirement Village

by Lise Day

Transplanted to the Spinney
I will have to become a tree.
First I favour the Willow
slender, bending in the breeze
but it’s too late for slender,
perhaps wise to be less pliable
to withstand the thorny thicket.
A Silver Birch attracts, poetic,
trunk white as age-streaked hair
leaves that flutter in late light.
I hope not to be a Crab-apple
mouth all puckered and bitter.
There’s the Weeping Bride’s Bush
but all that’s behind me now.
I love the Jacaranda tree
fronds bent with purple blooms,
constantly reminding students
that it is time to study now,
fitting for a retired teacher,
but due to be rooted out,
not indigenous enough.
I am more indigenous than exotic
so reject the unsmiling Wattles,
with turkey chins all drooping.
I will try not to be a Cross-berry
when nearby brambles prickle.
Cannot be a Common Cabbage tree
or unpleasant Hook Thorn
scratchy, catching on trivial things.
I think I’ll settle for the River Indigo
multi-stemmed, graceful,
pink flowers, soft green leaves
even in times of drought,
adaptable, easily transplanted.


Monkey Puzzle

by Pamela Newham

While your fellows press their small faces
with all-too-human eyes against the glass
you hang back,
like a teenager in a dress her mother made.
Then, unable to resist, you swing onto the deck
and that’s when I see and understand why
you are shy.

Some simian skin disease?
A pot of unwatched paint?
A spray to chase you away?

I find, these days, there are few things
that astonish and amaze
But you did it,
high in a bushveld tree
(the absurdity)
one small pink monkey.


by Michael Keeling

It was like swimming in silk,
warm, cloying and relaxing.
Shampoo lathered in the soft water
as our guide made the most of his ablutions.

We canoed to a quiet stretch of river
where a thin nylon line with baited hook
served us as fishing tackle.

An immediate swirl denoted a bite
and, within minutes, we had six fish
proudly displayed.

Puttering upstream to a floating house
We were welcomed by the owner.
Felicitations elicited the promise of a meal.

Fried, with a sprinkling of lemon juice,
they were delicious.
Whoever would have guessed
we had been swimming with piranhas?


Te Deum

by Cornelia Rohde

In the growing light,
wild ginger‘s sweet breath
scents banks of canals
flowing through green rice fields
in Haiti’s Artibonite Valley.

The slow ascent up rocky trails becomes
too steep for half-starved horses.
My mare sags and folds.
You gently coax her up,
walk her with a lead;
offer me your sturdier mount.

We stop for water
in a playful stream;
peel our clothes off in the heat.
You chase me laughing
through beds of zesty watercress.
The gleam in your eyes
warms me well beyond
the blaze of the sun.

The path stretches long through hills
rising blue in back of blue.
From mountains beyond mountains
rises a swelling te deum,
camphor of praise-song to guide us.
We reach a small stone sanctuary
in the half-light of vespers.
Te deum laudamus lifts the sky.

In the quiet night of crisp stars,
the parish curé
offers fresh-baked bread,
handmade cheese, wine,
his clear-eyed faith,
a simple bed for rest.


by Michael Keeling

It’s the road to nowhere
in a landscape of light
where shade is the brim of your hat

It’s a turbulent sea
of greenish-blue
on spray-breaking rocks

It’s the white sand
of an endless shore
under cloudless skies

It’s the shimmering mirage
of expectation
and the joy of arrival

It’s the mountain pass,
the winding track
and the exhilaration of being

It’s the trees, the shrubs,
the audacious flowers
on a multicoloured carpet

It’s the undulating
cheetah’s back
in pursuit of buck

It is, above all, the space,
the emptiness enclosed
in distant purple mountains

Yes or No?

by Annette Snyckers

the tiny frog sits
between the petals of a rose –
I almost missed him
so small and pale
his bulging eyes stare in slits
into this springtime morning –
the only sign of life
just a throbbing heartbeat
at his throat.

Perhaps he’s merely warming up
now that he’s left his tadpole tail
back in the pond –
or perhaps he lingers
enchanted by the fragrance,
the apricot and amber
of his petalled cave.
He seems to be listening inwards.

Frog thoughts take time –
(some days even mine)
will he leap, or will he stay
a Buddha for a day?


by Annette Snyckers

What I really wanted
was the forest,
that fecund place –
it smelled of damp decay –
where spots of sunlight sifted
through the green of spring.

I took it for myself,
let suspicion fall
where it may –
after all,
they left it in the shed,
perhaps they didn’t
even care.

Just before I fall
asleep, I can almost hear
the wind in the trees,
the rustling leaves –

the painting hangs
above my bed.



by Cornelia Rohde

At full moon’s morning tide
we swim across the flats
above baby conch
settled in soft turtle grass.
At each receding ebb
their pink-shell lips gape,
vulnerable to greedy scavengers.
You rescue them in weighty bucket-loads,
stagger through the shallows
to hurl them into channel’s depths
where they can safely fatten.

I imagine shiny shell faces
beaming with relief.


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.