Blackjack n. The spiky, adhesive seed of the weed Bidens pilosa
which clings firmly.
He loved her words which caught
him so much like blackjacks
that he wanted to undress
her because she seemed such
an attractive person and so
different from his wife.
He wooed and wooed with
all his exercise till she
succumbed in a bed of
country veld where
blackjacks hooked onto
her unwanted underwear and
that was very nice but
he missed her words and
her body was as smooth as
his wife's. So very tenderly
he removed from her sweater
the blackjacks one by one
and sent her back to her writing
board where she pinned
her blanket-stabber weeds
one by one and bit
back the cat-yowl sting.... more »
I came to our first meeting
with a falling feeling,
feeling of falling and fleeing.
Meeting you deeply on the way
down you said, "I don't want to say
I'm falling in love with you."
I said, "Oh do, please, do do do."
So you said it - oh you said it -
so deeply and it sounded true:
"I'm falling in love with you."
I came to our first true meeting
with a deeply falling feeling,
but I think you just caught me
reeling. You just reeled me in.... more »
I live in a large green house
with my daughter and three dogs.
Also here you may find sister,
and mother (grand).
and no cat.
People sometimes ask about the cat.... more »
Two friends of mine, hardly blood brothers,
have this in common: that they lost their mothers
to heaven or a better man at the tender age of four -
the same age as Beatrice when they met us.
Like all my friends they brought her treats,
teased her sweetly or applauded her feats
so that I thought, how good - they are healed -
they are here with us grown ups on the other side.
Until I noticed how when Beatrice cried
the great racking sobs of a child who is tired,
or defeated, or strung out like straining wire,
these friends followed when I carried her to bed,
stayed for the story, the caressing of the head,
waited for the bottle, the curtains drawn across
on a room full of children and their irreparable loss.... more »
WAYS OF KEEPING
I have kept my love for you
like an unloved dog,
chained up in the yard.
You have kept your love for me
pages of a well-loved book.
With a diamond, secretly, you have
etched me into a glass pane,
showing me my hiding place
with a cupped hand.
I could teach the world to woo
but teach me to keep as you do.... more »
RULE THREE THOUSAND AND TEN
I've forgotten a lot of the rules,
like how you get to the square on the hypotenuse
(and what you do once you're there)
and how to do long division
and getting percentages on a calculator.
Netball draws a blank.
Don't even know the right way to lace shoes,
Or the bowl to use when whipping chocolate mousse.
Why one is not supposed to clink glasses
or say pleased to meet you.
What to say when someone dies
or to do if they do.
And when to say "owing" and when to say "due"
(not that I ever have good reason to). What has gone away?
The whole thing about the past tense in French novels.
The meaning of zigzag yellow road markings.
The rite of contrition after confession
Whether Mrs Ramsay said it was doors or windows should be left open.
But I'll always remember rule three thousand and ten:
never sleep with married men.
But I'll never forget rule three thousand and two:
roses are red and mistresses are blue.... more »
STRAIGHT MEN OF CAPE TOWN
Though neither sheik nor potentate
each straight man in Cape Town
has twenty wives: his own
his widowed mom
his wife's unmarried friends,
their single sisters
the spinsters and the divorcees
whose potential partners are
diving for doubloons off Cuba
trading bonds in Singapore
gathering meteorological data on Gough Island
attaching nodes to interfaces in Dublin
raising sheep in the Karoo
mining platinum in Rustenburg
running a kibbutz in Israel
or still here in Cape Town but
collecting porcelain and blow-drying hair.
So the straight man of Cape Town sighs
as he opens doors and walks behind
and pulls out chairs, listening with half an ear
to his wife's unmarried friends,
the spinsters and the divorcees
whose husbands left them
for a stripper or a teen
for a change of woman
or for a change, a man,
whose ghost lovers left
for Cuba or for Dublin,
for Rustenburg or Singapore,
to farm in Carnarvon
or on a kibbutz
and so on,
ensovoorts.... more »
TO THE DOCTOR WHO TREATED THE RAPED BABY AND WHO FELT SUCH DESPAIR
I just wanted to say on behalf of us all
that on the night in question
there was a light on in the hall
for a nervous little sleeper
and when the bleeding baby was admitted to your care
faraway a Karoo shepherd crooned a ramkietjie lullaby in the veld
and while you staunched
there was space on a mother-warmed sheet
for a night walker
and when you administered an infant-sized opiate
there were luxuriant dark nipples
for fist clenching babes
and when you called for more blood
a bleary-eyed uncle got up to make a feed
and while you stitched
there was another chapter of a favourite story
and while you cleaned
a grandpa's thin legs walked up and down for a colicky crier
and when finally you stood exhausted at the end of her cot
and asked, "Where is God?",
a father sat watch.
And for the rest of us, we all slept in trust
that you would do what you did,
that you could do what you did.
We slept in trust that you lived.... more »