OFFERINGS FROM AN IMPROVISED SHAMAN
After Hinterland, an exhibition of Gladys Paulus’s work
To the left, the tongue of my childhood
sewn white on white and painted
gold inside an immaculate gown
turned exotic as it crossed an ocean
to clothe the memory of a grandmother,
an oma whose favours were forcibly taken from her,
a lady now resurrected by a charm of wool and veils.
But the words… those sentences lifted
from the pages that brought her comfort
and nurtured my learned, now irrelevant,
guilt: their healing lies beyond their meaning.
At the centre, opa’s presence enhanced to its essence,
particles once scattered and repurposed
now coalesce here, inside this survivor’s armour.
Talismans beating against his chest,
healing charcoal scales clicking,
as he walks through a hinterland
nestled in the frayed margins of existence.
Soothing gold has been poured into the cracks
and the ancestors’ scars are shining, their repose,
complete. As I leave the room, I contemplate
the flatlands of my childhood.
ORCHARDS – 8/2
The cooker doesn’t explode.
Untidiness acquires the logic of nesting
as you welcome autumn
leaves and paw prints on the landing.
Your door opens onto space
– cream, red and wood – with
a bouncy bed in the middle,
among the bits you brought and
the pieces you kept – seeds to start over.
Your window frames a green corridor,
stretching past pear and apple trees and shrubs,
thinning into a bramble-choked tip.
Closer, a robin on a hazel branch,
straight from childhood winters,
leaves a murmur,
a memory of things to come:
time biting its tail.
ORCHARDS – 11
Resounding rain a leitmotif amplified as it beats against a membrane of roof tiles, beams and possibly glass wool, sound vibrations along the slanting plaster ceilings. After five years
(give or take – doesn’t matter), the small flat offers a kitchen of your own. At least the carpet isn’t blue is your first thought. Then, looking up at the key meter: I am now officially poor.
(Doesn’t matter either.) You hold a fork that once belonged to your great-aunt, stainless steel lending solidity to memory. As your hand recognises the weight and shape of it, those years vanish.
Now very other Friday night, Iggy’s musical choices feed through your earphones, expand the free space around you as everyone else in the room recedes to the edges of another reality.