Archive for the 'relationships' Category

School holidays

Just after dawn
while the sun is still a red ball
and the ground mist rises
from the veld

we make a fire
and brew coffee
in a tin can with a wire handle.
Milk, sugar and Ricoffy,
stolen from the kitchen.

We squat in the dust
and warm our hands
at the embers
wait for it to boil.

The coffee tastes of smoke,
promises aardvark dens,
snake hunts, paper thorns,
stubbed toes and squabbles.

The problem with Dave

is that he doesn’t like surprises,
needs to practise his conversations
so as not to be left bereft of words.
Small talk is easier now,
he’s thirteen and knows
a series of phrases
repeated in the right order.

His words are not filed like yours and mine,
conveniently grouped by subject,
but clumped together in a sticky mass.
He has to search for each elusive one,
has learned to say,
“I’m going to change the subject”
before he talks.

But I have seen him, seated in the train
winking at pretty girls
raising his ginger eyebrows
and smiling, his rosy lips a perfect curve.
I have seen him in the waves, surfing,
laughing ’til his breath runs out,
and I have watched him
talking to his striped cat
with his hands
on the windowsill in the sun.

TV dinner

The kitchen table is round,
three-legged, set for two.
She eats alone again.
Soon she will leave him.

Restart

Sometimes it seems
we don’t talk much
any more
the words have lost their way
teeth in a glass
spectacles next to the bed
when did it happen
where was I?

Sometimes it seems
pain could be truth
to hit my head
against the wall
not merely stub my toe
again and again
blood on the sheets.

Sometimes it seems
the world is sagging
like the springs of this bed
white paint flakes are dandruff
on the green stoop
the curtains are faded
the garden abandoned,
when did it happen
where was I?

The shoemaker

The threshold sags, foot and stumble worn
admitting mice, impatient wind and salty dust.
Thirteen children grew up here
in a lavender garden behind a crooked wall,
their father a canny man who cobbled shoes.


July 2017
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