Monthly Archives: March 2012

Like a Stranger, April

I write to a friend whom I will never see in person, someone I’ve only met online. We are words and images flickering on a monitor, transmitting thoughts. It is an odd feeling knowing someone this way. Strangers who, in another time, would have walked past each other perhaps on a busy street or in the caverns of an airport. More likely we would never have met at all, submitting to the reality of living on either side of the world, sunrise and sunset forever chasing each other.

I tell this friend I am going back home. Home where my umbilical cord was cut. Where my feet first touched soil warm with the struggle of sun and rain, on land close to the band of heat that whips the planet. This friend has only known life in four seasons. Looking up to the heavens at night gives us some comfort – we become equally small and bound by the earth’s pull, beckoned by stars.

I tell my friend my worries. Time having pushed all family and friends to trajectories away from mine, we will be more like strangers than we dare admit. It will be like rebuilding a house on another plot of land – the same rooms perhaps, but not the same views out the door and windows. No, that’s not quite right. It will be more like a tent than a house. Sharing a temporary space, forced in a squeeze of time. We will be taking fragments from the past and try to make them fit some picture neither of us will fully recognize.

All will be over in less than three weeks. And I will step into a plane that will take me back to being a stranger to everyone. Again.

It is the reverse of homesickness.

-o-

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A photograph that reminded me of a photograph

This is a first draft and I may have to delete this post should Mimo Khair think it does not do justice to her own photograph. Here is a LINK TO Mimo’s Photoblog.

A Photograph that Reminded Me of a Photograph
for Mimo Khair

A friend showed me her photograph of the children who took her
away from the entrance to the Valley of the Nobles, the ancient
tombs cut from stone. In place of silence and eternity, she surrendered
to the call of giggles and handmade dolls. Small, dusty hands
clasped hers. Off she was led to their houses amid a made up chant
of her name, as if a long lost playmate had returned home.

Yellows and reds and wide smiles in that photograph
echoed a desert trip in India with my family. We expected
camels and vast stretches of nothing but sky and sand.
Not the laughter of children in bright floral saris, their hysterical
screams that made our twins withdraw. We should have
stayed a while longer in that village until their voices
settled. Instead we kept to schedule, caught
the paid-for camel ride into the sunset.

Without permission I stole their laughter,
stored it in my cellphone camera. Those children
who only wanted to play with our children
before we disappeared from them forever.

-o-

 

 

A very good friend from an online poetry critique group suggested I try shorter lines with this. So here. Please tell me what you think.

-o-

A Photograph that Reminded Me of a Photograph
for Mimo Khair

A friend showed me her photograph
of the children who took her away
from the entrance to the Valley of the Nobles,
the ancient tombs cut from stone. In place of silence
and eternity, she surrendered to the call
of giggles and handmade dolls.

Small, dusty hands clasped hers. Off she was led
to their houses amid a made up chant
of her name, as if a long lost playmate
had returned home.

Yellows and reds and wide smiles
in that photograph echoed a desert trip in India
with my family. We expected camels
and vast stretches of nothing but sky and sand.

Not the laughter of children in bright floral saris,
their hysterical screams that made our twins
withdraw. We should have stayed a while longer
in that village until their voices settled.

Instead we kept to schedule, caught
the paid-for camel ride into the sunset.
Without permission I stole their laughter,
stored it in my cellphone camera.

Those children who only wanted
to play with our children
before we disappeared
from them forever.

-o-

 


The Duck Dance

One of my daughters, when she was around three, used to perform on cue something we ended up calling “The Duck Dance.” She would bend her knees a little, lean forward, pull her hands to her chest, lift her elbows slightly, then wiggle her bum. It made us all laugh. The lightness that laughter and pure joy bring is what comes over me when I find out a work of mine had been given some space somewhere.

March has so far been a good month. After winning the Goodreads.com Poetry Competition with “People Like You,” I received the good news that a number of poems had been featured in the South African website LitNet.co.za. One poem, “Someone’s Head” is on their main page while four others are in the “Poetry Blog” section. After months of waiting I can now say I’ve got a foot in the South African poetry scene. Now I suppose I have to muscle my way through the door somehow. hahahahha. Perhaps doing “The Duck Dance” in front of an unexpecting audience at a local poetry reading will be too daring. I’ll wait until I’ve earned some kind of name for that. 😛

Here is the link to the Goodreads.com Poetry Competition.

Here is the main link for “Someone’s Head” as featured on LitNet’s main webpage.

The LitNet Poetry Blog links:

Stranded

Being Drawn

Cape Town Suburb Sunday Afternoon Remix

Main Road Paranoia

My poems from Alien to Any Skin are finding their way in more places. I’m glad for a wider readership. At least in theory.    🙂