Photo credit: Keith Dax Moss
If you were a turtle lady and you loved a turtle man
It would not be odd in turtle-land
if you had known the waves four hundred
years and he another sixty-one;
or he knew the beach for twenty,
you the sand for forty-six;
you each lost your turtle-hatchlings
in the week you turned and left
for waves and fish in deeper waters
such as it happens every year,
for you the turtle-man and lady
know enough of turtle fears.
I am rather fond of tortoises, terrapins and turtles. We had half a dozen tortoises in our back garden when I was a child, so I spent time watching them and observing their life cycles.
There isn’t much about jazz in the poem, so perhaps the title is mismatched. There’s a jazziness in the loop of the ‘turtle this’ and ‘turtle that’ refrain, but some might say I’m stretching it now. Maybe this will still prove a work in progress. We’ll see.
In addition to poetry, I have written on travel, art and visual representations of Africa. I also have an affinity for suburban memoir.
Here is my latest published piece, which appears in the Public Catalogue Foundation’s February newsletter: Painting in Focus: 103 True Faces of Robert Burns.
The Public Catalogue Foundation has recently completed a decade-long project to catalogue over 200,000 oil paintings in public collections across the United Kingdom.
My first volume of poetry is now available for purchase via http://www.blurb.co.uk/b/4110533-shining-in-brightness
Enjoy the preview pages, then please share this exciting news on Facebook and Twitter.
Here’s the book’s ‘blurb’:
“Shining in Brightness” presents twenty poems about loss, love and growing up in quiet suburbia. These poems chronicle a young woman’s journey from 18 to early adulthood. After leaving the leafy Cape Town suburb of her childhood, the poet-wanderer travels to California, Brazil, Cambridge, Poland and the Eastern Cape before alighting in North London. Two accompanying essays provide insights on both the poems and the writer’s process.
P.S. If you are interested in an iPad version or a deluxe, folio edition, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
I never got
a heart kitsched out of plump red silk
or fluffy between grinning paws
My heart was curved out of wire.
Two little hands threaded rows of beads
terracotta to brown
in bedside light my wire-heart hangs
glinting only for me.
I have done a great deal of childminding and babysitting in my time. It was a pocket-money making staple during my adolescence. More than ten years ago, I used to look after a little boy. He was incredibly creative and sometimes we would be up at late hours constructing his ‘projects,’ which usually involved hanging things down the stairwell. While he instructed my draping technique, I would be worrying myself about getting him to sleep before his parents came home. One night he and I sat on the floor and devoured a juicy mango, there and then, next to the kitchen cupboards. (We seldom had mangos in my childhood home.)
One evening, when I arrived for my usual duties, he handed over a palm-sized, tissue-paper wrapped gift. I opened it and it was this – a handmade heart shaped out of wire and strung with a rainbow of beads. This heart has lived on bedside tables and hung on my bedposts in three continents and about a dozen countries. It’s one of those objects I would grab if I had to flee from a fire.
I doubt this child, now all grownup, even remembers giving this special gift to me.
In old Dutch paintings
a green-winged hummingbird
might stand for love
when it’s on the inside of a pane of glass.
Hovering outside, it signifies the woman within
has been betrayed.
How would you know this
were it not for the scholars and books?
You would have to be Dutch from 1656.
In my notebook, this poem is preceded and followed by a few lines.
Preceding is a criticism, “There you go doing that thing again, where you write something obscure that no-one else can understand. What’s in your mind?”
After the last lines of the poem, are these comments, mine:
You expect some easy icons
Tins to pick from Tesco shelves
Or marked down shoes from TKMaxx
My poetry’s just not like that.