Separating the Seas

 

A selection of poems from

SEPARATING THE SEAS

 

 RAIN

 The bay has disappeared.

Cold and gray

sky covers old ground.

Wind shreds rain

into ribbons a white bird                                   

battles through.

Stunned between

morning and the end, a man

sits, holding onto his hands

holding him up.

 

TRANSFIGURATION

Only a dark mouth

pointing upwards.

Only a red eye

in the centre of his hand.

With one wave

of his wet tongue,

one jerk

of his old eye,

he drags the night

up the ladder behind him.

 

HE

(a writer’s biography in eight parts)                           

 1.

He waits, in the middle of a raucous crowd,

where the beggars and street children and the hawkers

of rotten fruit can hear his rattling hands,

for the wind to expose his shallow mouth.

2.

He moves his arms

up and down, backward

and forward

like a suicide testing the air.

3.

This is the way he walks:

with two arms stretched

out beside him,

two hands holding

tight onto air.

4.

The darkness casts its long shadow over the page.

Sometimes all he can see is the pitch-

black silence of his own hand.

Sometimes he cannot find his way out.

5.

Words come suddenly

the moment he turns his back on the page.

6.

He keeps walking:

following his shadow across a high, swaying

suspension bridge;

he cannot afford to look down.

He looks always ahead.  At where

he wants to be.

7.

How many others before him

have crossed over from this side of the bridge

to the other, and called it inspiration?

8.

There is something very like gambling                           

that keeps him hoping

this time, this time he’ll crack

truth wide open.

 

SHORE WITH NO FEET

shore with no feet.

the light off the wind

green and cold with wings

and a voice that sounds

like echoing glass.

bridge with no hand-hold

and two faithless feet;

a cracked stick to prop

the night up with eyes;

indiscernible tides of salt.

rocks without ever anyone.

 

SEAWARDS                                      

Cold shadow of the sun,

old light without hands.

A wave heavy with sand,

a mouth full of stones.                                                              

Into the smell of speechlessness

salt slowly dissolves.

Empty footprints face heavenwards.

 

LIMPOPO VILLAGE

– The dirt road is

dry, entirely red

and dry.

– The sky is empty

all the way from

one end to the other.

– A brindled cow

comes down the dirt road        

ringing a cracked bell.

– Red clay pots lie

broken on both sides

of the red road.

– A white chicken squawks

under the arm

of a young girl.

– On her head the girl carries

her old wooden bed

to her wedding.

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