My Mother’s Journey

by Elizabeth Trew

Her first visit to my father’s country
my mother grips the sides
of my uncle’s boat,
steps out holding my arm,
waves and smiles to the family
at the water’s edge

makes her way
in a swirl of gulls and flaxen children –
high heels in the mud
summer dress fluttering
in the stink of goat and pig and pit-latrine.
A blond horse looms out of a cloud
and the flag of Norway flies
in her honour,
Olaf’s widow from Africa.

In a wooden house of embroidered cloths
and heavy tock of cuckoo clocks
she slowly chews the laid out feast
shut out of language she cannot speak,
begging me to open a window, please.
Her lip trembles at our gifts
sent from Africa –
wooden animals, buckskin shield
and my father’s bar of gold.

 

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Vicki

by Elaine Edwards

“Wear a red carnation in your buttonhole,” suggests my husband.
“And carry a copy of the Times,” sniggers my son.
“Nonsense,” I say, “of course we’ll know each other.”

But now, sitting in the Arrivals Hall,
I’m not so sure.
It’s been thirty-five years and how entrenched is
a mischievous smile; a petite figure; dark curly hair?
The ability to draw, a quirky sense of humour,
flat feet and a propensity to believe men’s bullshit
can’t be seen at a glance.

Then a small figure in turquoise- rimmed glasses rushes forward,
grins, and holds out her arms.
As I move towards her embrace,
I remember that wide smile welcoming me to our grade one classroom
and marvel that I could ever have thought I’d forgotten
my first best friend.

Fiftieth School Reunion

by Lise Day

Gum boot dancing in the hall
as we shuffle in to sing
the old school song.
I am glad to come home
leave behind sad fellow pupils
now wrapped in crinkling folds of age,
forget the trysts behind the bicycle shed
the inky horror of algebra exams,
race studies in fusty apartheid text books
while helicopters hovered overhead,
Sharpeville running red with blood
We, unaware, sent home early.

Planting for the future spring
on Freedom day I am in my garden
where scarlet nerines explode with joy.