Poetry

 

(Non-fiction/academic writing is here)

The Housekeeper’s Tale

http://typecast.org.za/2017/12/06/the-housekeepers-tale-by-helen-douglas


I find myself sometimes

(Stanzas 9, September 2017)

 

I find myself sometimes

Calling your name

Addressing myself to you

 

An appeal for intercession

When all else fails

I call your name

 

In your absence

Everywhere I call you

I am calling you

 

To take your place here, you

In the place of your name

I find my self sometimes.

 

As you are for me, I am for myself

As I am for you, and you for yourself

As we are for each other, just so

The thousand names of love arise.


 

from Safehousekeeping, a work in progress

(New Coin: South African Poetry 52:2, December 2016)

harrow

An old woman walking a road as endless and lonesome as the Great Wall. A long shot.

There is a fine line that runs through everything. The line between this and that, one and the other. Neither here nor there. Not, and yet. It’s what exhausts her, that there are always two. Always one eludes her.

The world is not as seamless as it seems; it is everywhere joined up. It comes undone. It goes unspoken. The world undone is the disaster. Falling through shattered ground. This is what makes us afraid to love. Everything is so crazed. Someone has to hold the line.

 

the underground that is spoken

Nobody writes about the underground. There are adventure stories, but the underground itself will not be betrayed. Will not be brought to light. Underground refracts. Nonplace of slippage and ambiguity, it is the stuff of legends, of crooked roots and shy sly creatures. Another form of life, of passage, of resistance, of devotion. It has a precise clarity, another kind of glory.

 

cogito incognito

Everything comes too late. Even philosophy is barely on time.

Learning to travel on broken ground (groundless ground, underground) is the condition of both subjectivity and philosophy. And yet. As if. And yet, as if, that which cannot be spoken of may be spoken from.

 

a relationship

Many years later, a stranger at a cocktail party will say, “Someone once said to me that the underground is not a location, but a relationship with knowing.”

“Yes,” you will agree. Silently adding, and with trust. And with identity.

 

one enchanted evening

Ilav is the comrade who shows up in the night, grinning at the door with fresh supplies in his pack. He comes in from the rain. She sets out glasses and plates. They’ll be up half the night by the fire telling stories. The childish thrill of being awake while the others sleep. Her patchwork skin, almost whole, almost glows. So long as the night lasts, the rules are suspended. It will all come back to her in the morning: the work, the war, the fear. Her legendary habits of endurance. (Nothing will come back to her in the morning.)

It is his real name. But she will never use it or say it aloud. What is real must be put away for safekeeping, which is her job. Put away, like a criminal or a heart, something with conviction. Her love for him disarms her completely. He for whom she would die without thought or hesitation.

 

tradecraft

Don’t try to guess his identity. It’s need-to-know only. You will know him when you meet, despite some confusion at the beginning. He will be in disguise. He is never what you expect. Of course he might be a woman. It goes without saying.

But you need to need to know. It’s no good guessing with your eyes shut like you were trying to pin a tail on some donkey.

If you are trying to guess, you are not the one I’m talking to. You should put this down and stop reading what isn’t yet meant for you.

 

 

 

 

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