Centre of the World

There’s an image of peaceful solitaire

Thinking back on the countryside air

The fields and my childhood lair

I remember a great fig tree — its still there

Standing many a feet up in the air

In a land no owner known nor heir

Everyone admits they were born and found it there

The vast expanse of land around it bare

And grass of gold, green and fair.

scientists claim the centre of the world I know not where

But I have always thought it to be there

Under that old large dark green stare

Cut it down and the world deflates all its air

Like an unknotted balloon at a county fair

Chainsaw-wielding fiends don’t dare!

Painted Birds

I have painted Birds on my wall

every morning I wake up to their silent songs

The city is still this morning

The rains tore down all the chaos in the air last night

There is a strange calmness before the start of day

Which for sure will be noisy and chaotic

I take one look at my birdy creations

And like their plumage

I hear the colorful songs — each to each

All in my head.

Lo I can’t hear the Hoopoe!

Oh dear oh dear

I got to paint more birds!

Zindzile IX

I promised my girl a walk by the river

Many years ago–but it rained

And we took shelter under a shack

Where we giggled and talked with shiver

a whole afternoon was gained

and we cursed our luck

.

the plastic shade was worn out

and with the windy rain we got a little wet.

Rock breakers shelter in them from the sun

where their glistening backs give out

where hammers and fingers in pain are met

brows winced and sweat overrun

.

I passed by that spot today

The shade shacks are all gone

Rocks are broken by machines now

In their place a cover of teaming hay

Where we sat forget-me- nots are grown

Right where I swore my vow  

.

 Now I wander around looking for a riverbank

Where I’ll take my Zindzile for that promised stroll

but it always rains and the shacks are naught

so alone I walk in the rain with eyes blank

I go around the blue blossoms on a roll

 wet lips whispering forget me not…..forget me not

The Line

I often impress myself

by mundane acts such as; washing my socks

or getting my dry pants from the line

or doing the dishes or taking bus to work

and I wonder how I am able to keep on going

getting on in this strange mechanical manner

when my soul is not here–mostly–lately.

.

I want to take off this reality

Like a dirty cloth that has begun to stink

.

Just a little turn of my head

Just a second more staring at the wall

and I realize the miracle of my daily motion

how I am able to keep on going

like a stray bag left in the seat of a bus

which no one is coming back for

.

What a thin line, a tight rope

between keeping up with these mechanical motions

and tipping over to the sweet gnawing melancholy

that calls on to me like that attractive forbidden lover

to abandon my washing task

and sink my head in my foam covered palms.

________________________________________

The miracle is in walking this line

Zindzile VIII

In the days I readily fell in love

My whole being leaned towards possibilities

And I took cause to succumb

to the slightest maiden glance

In days like these I did meet her- elegantly clad

in the only green dress committed to the closet of my memory

I rushed to my spice box

And a soup did make her

To tell of the savories of love to come

.

I told her of the death of my childhood dog

How I learnt not all pain is physical

How not to relive the pain I foreswore dogs

I took her hand in mine

And with the great sense of possibility—or illusion

In my heart made her my wife

.

Zindzile dear I am brave now

With you by my side

I am ready to keep a dog again

Nirvana

I remember counting my steps as a child

From our hut down the stream

Every day on my way there and back

How when spanked for some mischief

I rushed to the garden to weep

And nocturnal birds imitated my sobs

How I heaved a sigh and went silent

Seeing reflection of the starry sky in a puddle of rainwater

and realized how the flower bearing shrubs

That grows around the hut formed around me

a colourful protective moat from the darkness beyond

.

For a long time life felt like those steps from the stream

Same path, same steps and everyday counting

Over and over again

How these memories come back now

Like projected pictures in a theatre hall

And am alone in the darkness all seats empty

I am the stream flowing seamless

With no need of counting

I am a nocturnal bird imitating other’s sobs

In this garden – world–of constant sorrow  

I have drunk all the stars in the rainwater puddle

and sigh no more

a fence of flowering shrubs around my heart

.

Whenever I want I can be eight again

Sitting on the rock terraced slope

Of the old church hill

White warm pebbles of a Saturday midmorning

Among a colony of periwinkles

Looking out on the yon still morning lake

Little passion fruit seeds on my smeared cheeks