is not like that
is more than that
dissolving this beginning.
a crystalline comfort zone.
Scorching outburst of lava
Its relentless pursuit
creating suffocating black smoke
clouding all vision
Crying black solid tears
Scarring the landscape
Black impenetrable crust
burying yesterday’s green
Surprise and Pain
cast in stone –
ugly and grotesque.
Hold me in your feminine arms
Mine I’ll take up
against the patriarchal warder
parading my ancient conscience
Could he but be entombed in history
his death only
midwife to alternative stories
Society the warden
a home, a marriage, a mouth to feed
cells in my soul to respond –
White bones picked clean
Death invading tiredness
hemming them in, circling
from poverty evolving
Never let your guard down
never make eye contact
keep walking keep walking
Outcries piercing invading
Deaf ears can’t hear
White flutter of powdery wings
Life exuding materialism
from begging evolving
keep wanting keep wanting
faltering stumbling invading
Dead bodies can’t feel
Caught in conflict’s craving
relentless relapse lurks
in every small encounter.
Stubborn silence, the unwelcome herald
of inevitable mutual destruction.
Relinquished dreams of a future together
feed like parasites on the last scraps of hope.
With every disappointed desire
eyes pass the dreaded verdict of an absent light.
Worthless unspoken words drift in the space
devoid of “you and I”
Harsh words and accusations yield
to stoic silences and simmering grudges.
Repressed pain and irritation manifest in screaming body language!
Reality, the impassive unimpressed jury
stare in silence
as our world breaks into ghastly pieces.
Rosalinda’s loss struggled for a week to free itself from the shackles of shock. Its liberation came through the simple implements of knife, fork and plate. In their single setting on the table, they managed to shatter the silence of her grief.
‘Rosalinda! My Rose, my Linda! Which one do I love the most?’
Rosalinda quickened at the sound of Tom’s voice and carefully got up from where she was digging amongst the rows of vegetables. As she returned into the house, her feet crushed the peppermint patch and its perfume lingered around her.
‘Oh, there you are’, Tom said, when she appeared at the kitchen door.
His welcoming embrace carried the scent of wood and mingled with her peppermint to become the fragrance of that day’s love.
‘I have finished the chair that I restored for Milly and will drop it off before dinner. Let me just have a quick shower and then I’m off.’ ‘Well, while you have your shower I am going to finish in the garden.’
While Tom whistled his dirt away, Rosalinda’s apron pocket received her harvest of cherry tomatoes which would become their salad.
Tom’s goodbye kiss lingered on her lips long after the salad had been made. The sun setting through the kitchen window unwillingly retreated like a child wanting one last splash in the pool before going home. She postponed putting on the electric light which always seemed like an intruder in her secure world. The pasta sauce on the stove bubbled away a blissful ballad and she hummed along as she laid the table. Tom will be home any moment now and she retreated to the stoep where she could watch as the night dressed in stars and moonlight. This was her favourite hour. Insects darted around the light at the corner of the house. A sultry summer evening like this one was full of promises.
The familiar sound of Tom’s car stopping at the gate became the siren before the explosion of her world. Gun shots reverberated through her soul and became a continuous ringing in her ears. She heard doors slamming, shouts and screeching tires. “No! No! No! Please God, No!’
Too many highjackings, too many people dead. As she ran towards the gate, the advancing abyss overwhelmed the retreating hope. She found Tom lying on his side upon the gravel. The light in his eyes retreating. She cradled his head in her lap. Like a vulture, life without him loomed over her. She could not let him go. Long after the medics declared him dead she sat next to his body on the stretcher.
‘Rosalinda’, let me take you inside.’
Her world was fragmented. Shards of images appeared and disappeared. Unintelligible voices filled the air. Her body was taken inside. There was a cup of coffee in her hands. It became an obstacle. She put the cup down. Her head bowed prayerfully, but continued all the way down until resting on the red stain on her forearm. She closed her eyes and the voices around her advanced and retreated. For a moment she was a little girl again, lying on the back seat of her parents’ car, sleep creeping up on her and the sound of car tires and voices advancing and retreating.
Coldness lurked on the empty space of the bed next to her. A predator ready to pounce. The sleeping pills dragged her away from consciousness and before the remembrance of wood and peppermint could reach her heart, sleep conquered.
A ringing in her ears woke her up. Her arm was too heavy to lift the telephone. She was dragged back to sleep. The sound of a gunshot rang in her ears and rudely jerked the blanket of sleep away. She was exposed. She fled back to the drugged arms of sleep. A ringing in her ears woke her up. The doorbell. Faint voices. The door of the room opened like an abyss.
‘Here’s breakfast, dear. Let me help you’.
The familiar and soothing voice became the dressing on the gaping and fatal wound in her heart. She tried to swallow. There was a lump in her throat. It became an obstacle. She left it there. Nothing could pass.
She was lost in the maze of time. People came and went. Police; family; friends and again police. All of them flooding her with their emotions. Anger, so much anger. Tears and soothing voices became her crutches as she forced her broken self through the rituals of choosing hymns, writing a eulogy and preparing for the final farewell. She was so tired. At night his cold pillow kept her awake. Tom’s funeral was too soon for Rosalinda.
The abyss at her feet was eternal. The dry and dusty earth was hungry. She was choking; suffocating. The abyss devoured the wooden coffin. Her life was left desolate. Returning home she closed her eyes and rested her head against the car window. Her universe had become mute. Her devastation threatened to escape captivity, but the lump in her throat secured its prison. Nothing could pass.
At the house voices advanced and retreated. Words fell helpless into the void that separated. Nothing they said made a difference. The people in her house did not belong there. They became obstacles. She dismissed them.
It was a relief to surrender sympathy. She walked about in the house; a strange place now where pain and memories lay in ambush amongst familiar objects. Her body, unable to recognize death, demanded food. She laid the table. The single setting lay there accusing her. It became an obstacle. She needed to remove it. She bent over and slowly surrendered to the floor. She released her sorrow past the lump in her throat.
Rosalinda’s cry was that of a new born babe.
Here we gather
around this table;
hunger driven souls.
Each one here from far away
shared company lost in memory
so long since we have been this way
the comfort food and memories bring
I look at you and know you well
each gesture, habit and expression
I lift my glass and cast a glance
do you still care ’bout me perchance?
I catch your eye
you smile … escape
I follow you as in a dance
Soon we talk, we search, we take
all that is given, so much at stake
recovering a friendship
hoping, this time it will last
girl on a swing
rainbow’d her rags this corner of playground
flapping and flitting like flags in a frenzy
upping and downing her ripples of rapture
gyrating joy in colour and sound
startling the sparrow the beetle and jay
projecting herself in plummeting pleasure
craving attention of mothers on benches
smilingly glancing to offspring at play
singingly swinging in sync with her ‘mates
desperately trying to fit in and join
hoping to share in refreshments to come
knowing eventually just being alone
who can she be, this fairy of flutter?
alone will she sleep tonight in the gutter
I am an African with my sky blue eyes and burnt white skin
Dreams hatch in the sun and run around in colourful dresses
Bare footprints track scintillating thoughts around my heart
Clicking tongues weave the all- embracing cloth
covering the landscape with its chanting colours
Plains dictate the drumbeat of our hearts
Forests sway like tranquil bodies in a trance
Dust covered winds dance in the diminishing light of the sun
Wild ideas sprout and flourish abundantly
Children of an ancient Mother and eternal Father
murmuring, searching, shuff’ling, remembering;
I am an African with my tear blue eyes and bleak white skin
Fears breed in the night and gorge on the scorching sunlight
Ideologies shimmer in the heat and ravish the plains
Distrustful herds grow restless, the stench of the past contaminates
Uncertain feet shuffle tentatively with the clandestine steps of the dance
Place remains the same, though not the same
New offspring, unaccustomed to the rancour glances of siblings
return to the security of tempestuous dripping breasts
With no place else to go, no place no place no place…
Longingly waiting to burst forth,
to claim belonging with a glorious “I am!”
I am an African with my star blue eyes and blushing white skin
Roots run deep and certain, feeding fearlessly on the land that is ours
Shyly love approaches, exploring hidden treasures,
uncovering that which was always there
rejecting and repairing re-naming and re-writing
wounds leave scars but Place is ever faithful
greedily and jealously claiming back the truth
stalking and stumb’ling, eventually defiantly
standing upright under the sun and moon and stars
Soaking up the nourishing light
immersed in a penetrating fertile fire
I am an African with my rain blue eyes and blossoming white skin
Sunrise caresses the delicate, hopeful, blinking future
Buried dreams rise and gather the rich golden harvest
Water covered winds baptise nameless graves
Our earth cradles the blessed treasure of bones
Young limbs follow wise footprints in the sand
remembering what was, yearning forward
stretching and testing, recovering the way
Place and Parents embrace us all
We are home. “We are!” “We are!”