Contributor to Phenomenal Women, Anthology, Building Communities Resource Centre, March 2022
I am loved
Alone in the crowd
is it a self-inflicted punishment
to sit alone alone in this crowd
while lovers lean in
and families encircle
their togetherness pronounce my solitude
sadness surges and
I am reminded I am human
and I am alone alone in this crowd
this crowd that talks and listens
this crowd that laughs and smiles together
of my unspoken conversations
my unhugged body
my unsmiled goodbyes
my aloneness urging a togetherness
for while I sit apart this crowd holds me within it
so I take the sadness as a soothing balm
that may deflect the hardening of a heart
for the hardened heart would be the punishment
while the ache of loneliness and longing
loneliness and longing is the welcome reprieve
Love, in the time of remote learning
Where the hurt can heal
These three poems, along with photographs of nature installations, were published in the COVID-19 Immemory archival exhibition.
I am rooted
I wrote in rooms
These two poems were published in the Steel Jackdaw Edition 2 magazine.
I am rooted, eyes transfixed on your branches, dancing in
the gentle breeze, leaves singing a song of swish—and soothe.
I am rooted, by your roots, steady, fixed, transfixed in Earth
and by earth, with your trunk radiating up—into the heavens.
I am rooted, in awe, utter and complete awe at your ability to stay
and to stand and to not run away like I have done so—so often.
I am rooted, in recognition that while you stand in your one spot
you dance through the earth, and with—the stars.
I am rooted, by your smell, drinking it with hungry nostrils, open
mouth tasting musky, muddy magic moving—through my lungs.
I am rooted, by the hardness of your bark bearing the softness of
my breast, body surrendering and exhaling—into your embrace.
I am rooted, watching people walking by, smiling at their happiness
not needing to know their names or their lives to rejoice—in their joy.
I am rooted, in wonder. Is this what you do? Standing in your one spot?
Smiling air into our lungs? Breathing life to all who may not even notice?
Oh! If I could know the songs you sing and hear the stories you tell,
I would never ever stop listening. I hope to know! I hope to hear!
So every step I take away, while you stay standing in your one spot, is
with verdant gratitude and a willful, wafting wish, to be rooted—like you.
Where did the rhetoric lead?
Flames of the funeral pyres torch the world
You are burning
Burning your dead
Burning in my skin
I didn’t want to love you
I wanted to despise you for bequeathing me
A culture that feels as foreign to me as patriarchy and misogyny
Yes, all too familiar and completely foreign in my fists of freedom
You were not even on my list
Why would I want to come to you when I knew
That I would have chosen apartheid over your caste system, on
any god-given day—choosing to be judged by race, not religion
You gave me skin I didn’t want
Wishing for darker or paler, for black or white would not have
placed me in a middle ground of racial privilege in South Africa
You broke my heart open with your beauty
I am yours, you are mine, with brothers and sisters who trusted
me to journey their hearts and minds to spirit, to source, to peace
You are magnificent, always awake
I am here today remembering your roads, your rivers, your roots
Where the sick are falling and the dead are burning as we watch
I am ashamed, guilty in my safety
So far away that you can’t touch me with your multitudinous sick
Yet close enough to choke on every vaccine you make for the world
I am sorry, I am sorry
I wish you could keep it and treat the world’s vaccine production site
As a place were people matter more than the service they provide
I know these are my words
Your grace, humility, your compassion and humanity rise above me
I am weak with my fears and judgements, my worries and impatience
You are extraordinary in your ordinariness
When my feet first touched your skin I knew why I had avoided you
How do I ignore my heart, beating now, knowing it will one day stop
You taught me about death
About seeing the beauty of fleeting moments I cannot hold on to
Yet can only encounter briefly, when my eyes, my heart, my mind open
You taught me about love
A surrender to life with all its unknowns, open to awe in any moment
Intoxicated by fragrant friendship, bubbling bliss, joy that sparkles
The lessons you teach are the lessons to be learned by us, by you
All of us, falling here, through the lies and deceit into the ocean of truth
I watch you burn
You are inextinguishable
Lessons untaught and learned
Although I studied a four year degree in primary education
they didn’t teach me what I really needed to learn.
They didn’t teach me that I’d soon stand there with barely enough for
my rent and groceries unable to ignore the ache in your bellies.
They didn’t teach me so I ordered two sandwiches, ate one
and loudly declared "I’m stuffed! Anyone want a sandwich?"
They didn’t teach me so when you cold, I picked out the unlabelled
and unclaimed from the lost and found box, asking, Isn’t this yours?
They didn’t teach me so I pretended not it see your drooping eyes
—you slept through the break as though you hadn’t slept in days.
They didn’t teach me so when you struggled to go up the stairs
I asked some to carry your bag and I carried you.
They didn’t teach me so when you fragile voice was drowned out by the noise
I firmly said, “Some voices are loud, some are soft. All voices are listened to here.”
They didn’t teach me so when your anger boiled and seethed
I took your hands and said, "It’s ok to be upset. Breathe with me.”
They didn’t teach me so when you told me about the racist name they had
called you I invited them to call me the same, "No ma’am we are sorry."
They didn’t teach me so when you asked "What are you reading ma’am?"
I read it to you and thats how we ended up reading an affirmation every day.
They didn’t teach me so when you laughed out loud, which got all of us
laughing, I just had to ask again and again, "Could you please laugh for us?"
They didn’t teach me so when you broke into ‘Tragedy’ in the middle
of the maths test, I threatened—to bring in my ABBA CD.
They didn’t teach me so when you asked if you could take turns
to light the candle on my desk, I said, “Sure, just be careful.”
They didn’t teach me so when you needed more help during the break
or after school, I helped you—because you asked.
They didn’t teach me about life—they taught me to write lesson plans
never once saying that we’d learn most from the unplanned lessons.
They didn’t teach me about joy—they taught me about assessment,
perhaps not knowing that you happiness meant that I’d passed the test.
They didn’t teach me about wonder- and that teaching was mostly learning
about me, the me who will always fiercely love you.
They didn’t teach me about love—you did and because you taught me
I know that the most important lesson in any classroom—is simply, simply love.
Journeying the ups and downs
The weather is my mind. Sometimes muddled
sometimes sure. Is it going to rain or will it snow?
Is the sun out or is it in?
Who knows! Who knows!
The weather is my body. Covered up by layers of cloud
and self-doubt. Grey, light grey, dark grey, uncovered
when sun melts moods and fears.
The weather is my joy. Sun bursting. Leaves gleaming.
Grass tickling underfoot Light travelling through open
windows and upon waves.
The weather is my sorrow. Drops dripping down drain
pipes. Loneliness sitting in sidestepped puddles.
Despair bursting river banks.
The weather is my hope. Snowdrops peeking
through the grass. Iridescent. Whispering
“Light is coming!
Hold on! Hold on! Hold on!”
The weather is my heart. Open changing. Known.
Unknown. Sometimes whole. Always breaking open
to light, dark. Love, fear.
Sadness, joy. All of it.
I came here to listen to my heart
And listening to my heart
brought me here
I came here to remember love
Love walked and smiled
Love danced and laughed
And to let the remembrance of love lived
Help me mourn
I came here to feel the sadness of loss
Piercing every stitch
Of my stitched together womb
every sit stand step
every sob swallow sigh
I came here to let the sadness hold
Hold and bury
the unborn babies
I came here for here to hold me
In its cold, wet and green grip
And to let it unclasp the chains
And thaw the ice
I came here to feel my pain
And to let my pain
teach me to love
I came here to be alone
So my aloneness could allow my loneliness
To seep and saturate
A new year request
As waves rise and fall
I ask for all the unshed tears to shudder bones and fall free
into an ocean of sorrow, loss, regret and remorse
—raging and rabid.
I ask for all the trapped feelings to beat upon bones and burst out
forming waves on stormy seas
—pounding upon desolate shores.
I ask for all the uncured illnesses, to ripen in body and be released
like shells, washed, tossed and spewed
—onto lonely sand and unseen rocks.
I ask for all the unsaid truths to bubble and surface in mind and heart
frothing and dissipating like foam
—bubbling and unbubbling on cresting waves.
I ask for all the blossoming truths to shimmer and sparkle in droplets
and wafting mist of spray, sea spray
—kissing my eyelids and my salt-smacked cheeks.
As life ebbs and flows
I ask for truth and love, kindness, and courage
—to anchor, and harbour, my heart.
wild wanton and willful
in air, fire, land and sea
naked, raw, revelling
strong, weak, tender, true
with air that wets parched skin
with fire that moves bones and pumps blood
with land that cradles and rocks broken hearts
with sea that holds unsteady minds, still
bare boned, full blooded, taught muscled
sun-kissed, water-swept, air hugged
dance, dance, dance
dance, dance, dance
Although I have been writing for many years, I have recently begun reading at online poetry events and have been submitting pieces for publication. I am grateful to the prolific poet activist Mervyn Seivwright who has been assisting me with editing my poetry and art collections that I am working towards publishing. Mervyn's writing is an inspiration with his honesty about trauma with insights into nomadic lifestyle and a lifelong commitment to change the narrative about race and the vital need to empower black voices. His mentorship and friendship is helping me to gain the confidence to continue pursuing publishing opportunities.