Time like Stone

 

A selection of poems from

 TIME LIKE STONE

 

 OVERLOOKING THE BLOCK

On the top step of the ladder

you stand staring across the roofs

of the houses, the tree-tops, over

the barbed-wire garden walls, the dirty

streets thronged with traffic, across

the small yards, their chickens and children

out towards the hill-side where the horizon

balances like a blade between two colours:

one filled with morning and bird-song,

the other with wings.

And the top step of the ladder

assumes your deep breath before

the long dive into the silence of dishes

stacked like headstones in the leaking sink,

the temper of the kitchen table, empty

tea-cups with cold stains in their saucers

 and shadows, shadows of names in chairs

where voices once sat whispering

urgent passwords that ring with the fragrance

of moon-flowers, their delicate hands

lent to your loneliness.

But on the top step of the ladder

you still stand staring while the world

slowly ages, green to brown, unclothed softness

to naked cracks of taciturn habit.

And cold. Sundown.

Dusty haze dissolving distance. The smell

of hoary smoke in the air.

Out of the empty blue, suddenly,

scraps of ash like black snow float down

slowly into your open hand.

 

OF DROWNINGS AND DROUGHT

 Old stones do not

other stones make,

nor fish spawn flowers

of drought and the afterdeath.

A dried shoot is unable

to drink where glass grows,

and only silence swims

in spaces the tongue leaves. 

So swollen tides of the sky

at night convulse with stars.

So trees shed perennial tears

over darkness in the hand.

So a broken set of feet

dream swimming into distance.

So you send to the heart’s well

for a bucket of salt.

 

APOLOGIA

The new trousers you bought me

I’ve already torn (accidentaly, yes).

Also there’re some splashes – oil

or turpentine, maybe even printer

cartridge ink (who knows?) Anyway

they haven’t wanted to wash out,

I’m sorry. It seems

I can’t look after anything:

lost the proper use of my legs

before I was even born

and my hair, well, the bulk of it

didn’t even stick around till twenty.

But seriously,

I am really sorry about the trousers.

Perhaps you should’ve given me

the money instead.

 

THREE VIEWS OF A KAROO VELD

 i.                                                                         

Time runs like stone

in these parts

of bleached grass and bone.

ii.

Shards of thin sky

bleed the veld

desolate and dry.

iii.

Starched winds cart away

scales of water

from night and the day.

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