Possessions

by Lise Day

For my sister and brother-in-law whose
house was burnt to the ground in the Knysna fires.

It was the coral cups of a thousand clivias
that smouldered in the woodland garden.
The only flame that flitted between the trees
the quick flash of loerie’s scarlet wing.
Rows of shining bottles glinted gold
holding pungent fynbos honey
collected by bees in hills, purple-clad,
encircling the mirror lagoon.
Inside the gentle flicker of candle light
flower shades, white curtains
Danish simplicity of taste.
Medals marking children’s triumphs
ribboned in proud display;
Recipe books with pages splattered
memories of delicious meals;
Gleaming hard pear and yellowwood
a corner chewed by errant dog;
The green dress worn to a family wedding;
Mementoes from world-wide travel;
Treasures, no longer useful
but too hard to give away;
Paintings collected, overlooked
in every-day but remembered now;
Grandmother’s stinkwood dresser;
The bubbles suspended in Lille’s glasses;
The familiar taken-for-granted stuff
that marks your passage through your past.

Gone!

But loved ones, family, dogs are safe.
The sum of life is not measured
by the totting up of our possessions.

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Fleeting

by Pamela Newham

Where are you?

Where are you tonight?
It’s that show-off moon,
too big, too bright
that brings back
sixties songs
and the smell of cigarettes
and jasmine
and empty glasses
on a wooden table
and chair legs
sinking into evening-damp grass.

 
Then I turn my back on that brazen moon
and, sane again, I do not care where you are.
Where you are tonight.

Rescue

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.

Realization

by Annette Snyckers

Sometime
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.

dance the more glory

by Elizabeth Trew

gentle strong dancer dancing into the world
dance again solo on the red hill

swirl the tails of your animal dress
with laughter in sun-wind

dance to the earth and its bones beneath
your arms open raised to the sky

rhythm feet turning the centre of you
letting arms flow to the voice of your body

turning the more deeply to its music
gentle strong dancer, astonish me again

Rift

by Annette Snyckers

I could attempt
the journey
to your world,
but it seems so far,
so difficult,
and even if
arrival was possible,
you might stop me
at passport control,
have me searched
for ulterior motives,
refuse entry.

Then,
on barren soil
delusions would bloom,
disputes flourish,
wounds bleed seeds.

In the end
the harvest
bitter,
and we,
the reapers —
the losers.

Yellow Snake Spirit

by Cornelia Rohde

“He is upon the Wheel as we are—a life ascending or descending—very far from deliverance. Great evil must the soul have done that is cast into this shape,” said the Lama to Kim.
Rudyard Kipling, Kim
 

No meat on him, nor in his mouth.
Skin leather-tough, scaly as a turtle.
On his head an old palm hat
Miss Ilma’d plaited out of pity.

No wife nor kin to share
his crooked clapboard house:
privy out back, no pump,
dirt floors and vermin.

His neighbors pinch their noses.
Kids taunt him. His harsh curses
send them scattering. They call
him a curmudgeon, or call him worse.

His watermelons ripen
on his Crown Land plot.
He piles his skiff with weighty fruit,
rows back across the channel.

Makes fast his line; readies to hurl.
One by one, heads smash on the dock
in shattered bleeding shards.
That un’s Ole Pot, that un’s Crazy Boy, that un’s Jack.

The church takes his land for a parking lot.
He hides in the bush in a makeshift hut.
His slingshot drops a bird to eat.
But that bud is a yellow snake.

De bud is a speerit.
De bud sings,
Go carry me home.
So he takes him out.

Go an’ make up yer fire.
Come an’ cook me now.
He done eat. One bone lef.
Go lay on yer mat.

When they come, he is
stiff as a mast, down and dead.
They find a yellow snake
coiled under his bed.

 

Patterns in the Park

by Michael Keeling

There’s a tiny blind creature
making patterns in the park.
It’s sort of golden coated
and perpetually dark
but its remaining senses
tell it all it needs to know
as it tunnels after insects
and tells rivals where to go.

Don’t trample on its runways
or spear it with a fork
(saw one on the football field
being gobbled by a stork).
Don’t poison it or skin it
to make yourself a coat.
Don’t throw it in the swimming pool
to see if it will float.

No, this tiny blind creature
is
is part of you and me
and all the things around us
that are ecology.
Amblysomus hottentotus
you can call it if you must;
if it strains your epiglottis
call it something you can trust.

For as it aerates the soil
it’s a tiller of the land
and resulting from this toil
are its benefits to man.
Crops grow stronger, grass grows longer,
more and more are fed,
so it’s up to you, give encouragement
to this industrious quadruped.