MARÍ PETÉ    POEMS

_________________________________

 

POETRY | THEMES | PUBLICATIONSLISTEN | EVENTS | ABOUT

 

- selected themes that run through publications -
 


BIRTH AND DEATH

CAMBRIDGE

CHILDHOOD

DURBAN

LOVE AND MARRIAGE

MOTHERHOOD

TECHNOLOGY

 



BIRTH AND DEATH
 

 Thin membrane  |  Chi 
Shawl  |  Bredie for grief 
  Koorsboom (original Afrikaans) -   Fever tree (translation)
MovedIsis says

 

Thin membrane


 

While a scalpel slides over your mom's belly,

a favourite aunt dies in her sleep today...


 

As you two slip past each other

through the thin membrane


 

– bodies wrinkled, eye lids lucid –

eternity distills in an autumn day. 


 

Listen with the deep ear in your chest

(as Rumi would say)


 

how doors and gateways

open and close


 

in the infinite maze. 

Welcome, Kay.



 

For Karen and Henning

 


Themes | Birth and death




Chi


I Breathe


 

Early autumn morning,

I stroll from the hospital

to the pharmacy.


 

Waiting to cross in a bubbly crowd

at the intersection of Smith and Grey

(I know they've been changed,

but I'm fond of these names)


 

whirl winds

from four corners

sweep to the crossing –


 

sweets wrappers, clothing tags,

Fanta cans, shopping bags

meet and twirl, bounce and leap...


 

Goosebumps run along my arm.


 

I rush back to the hospital,

find you

wriggling

with purposeful pain –


 

you clutch my hand, and breathe...


 

II Crown


 

A folded head

slowly slowly edges through...


 

skilled hands reach to pull you out –

skull bones slide into place...


 

coated in white, you sneeze twice –

Chisanga, pleased to meet you.


 

 

III Clutch


 

Curled on your side

in the nest of the scale

your eyes track her voice

while she tells me, Chichi,

you're her first delivery.


 

When this nurse scoops you up,

your fingers and toes

clutch the edge of the rim...


 

for three seconds

you cling like a monkey. 


 

She laughs –


 

silver coins of surprise and delight

jingle down a wishing well

this clear autumn morning. 


 

For Bwalya

Themes | Birth and death



 

Shawl


 

my sorrow has trailed behind me
crochet shawl in the dusty road
miles and miles of precious quilt
woven with the colours
of my life's moments 

I started making it
the day my dad died
in the dusty road 

red dust,
his neck luminous lilac
against white church shirt
in the green grass of the roadside 

I found him
before anyone moved,
the car wrecked round my mother's wounds,
she waits and sighs 

then a passerby brakes the screeching silence

weave the sorrow and the silence
each treasured moment
trailing silently behind 

woven since that Sunday when I was nine

it is mine

 

Themes | Birth and death


 

Bredie for grief


 AUDIO

 

Choose a good cut of marbled meat.

(Beef is my preferred bredie* for grief.)


 

Trim excess fat, but

leave small bits to nourish her,

hush her cries – the mother


 

of this young man wrenched from her arms –

his bear shoulders big hands perceptive eyes.


 

To begin, onion tears. Loads of tomato.

Garlic to ward off burnt sticky fears.


 

A handful of pears, or quinces, or plums,

which ever summer fruits you find

for boyhood mischief in back yard sun.


 

Peppercorn, cumin,

cardamom, cloves.

Roast these and grind.

Scatter to preserve

his old soul brow,

slight shy smile.


 

Spoon of salt,

quality stock,

dash of wine.


 

Last before the lid goes on

– to exalt his soul –

a pinch of saffron (per weight,

more expensive than gold).


 

Allow ample time –

until scented steam

fills echoing rooms...

invokes curing and hope

however unimaginable.


 

Before you serve: add a touch of vanilla

for the fragrant future she deserves.


 

*Bredie: stew (Afrikaans)

For Susan, in memory of Johann

 


Themes | Birth and death




Koorsboom


Soutbries speel heen en weer
oor Broers in Groen* se rugbygras,
soos ma se hand sy kuif sou streel
voor skooltermyn se eerste dag.

'n Diep gat wag.
Pa se hande strooi die as.
Sleep die boom. Om die beurt
skep vriende en familie grond.

Dorings kopspeel in die wind.
Vinkneste sal wieg, eendag.

Draai die tuinslang wawyd oop.
Verewig kind se borrellag.



* Broers in Groen: Glenwood Boys' High, Durban

Vir Vicki, ter herinnering aan Tristan



Fever tree


Translated from Afrikaans by Karin Schimke



Salt breeze plays back and forth

over Brothers in Green's rugby grass,

the way mom's hand would stroke his fringe

before school term's first day.


 

A deep hole waits.

Dad's hands sow the ash.

Tow the tree. Taking turns,

family and friends shovel the earth.


 

Thorns nod in the wind.

Finch nests will sway, one day.


 

Turn on the garden hose hard.

Undying child's bubble laugh.



* Brothers in Green: Glenwood Boys High, Durban

For Vicki, in memory of Tristan


 

Themes | Birth and death



 

Moved


 

Even organ pipes of Bach’s Toccata,

or his slowest Variatio

cannot reach into the question —


 

why the tip of her brother’s nose

and his eye balls were gone

when she found him —


 

mentally ill man

moved on an open truck

from Esidimeni (Place of Dignity)


 

to an unlicensed institution.

She is just one. Many families weep.

We need new music to dig deep.


 


https://mg.co.za/article/2017-10-09-life-esidimeni-the-greatest-cause-of-human-right-violations-since-democracy


 


Themes | Birth and death


 

Isis says

AUDIO




Let me rub you with oils

until you sleep; keep watch


 

when Spirit of Thoth

stirs scarlet feathers of your heart


 

and harsh cries echo down Africa's spine

from Serapeum at Saqqara to Cape Point.


 

Read the Book of Gates with me,

I'll keep you while you dream.


 

Leave your fears behind

in the Valley of the Kings.


 

Hush my Love,

enter Duat now


 

on ibis wings.



Themes | Birth and death

_________________________________


CAMBRIDGE

 

Dear Diary, dis winter (original Afrikaans)  - Dear Diary, it's winter (translation)

Halfronde (original Afrikaans)North and south (translation) 

Huiswaarts (original Afrikaans) - Homeward bound (translation)




 

Dear diary dis winter

hier is die lug kleurloos
en die bome
dra oumensvel
met mosbaarde
aan elmboog en oksel

studente maak wolkasems
as hul soggens oor brûe dorp toe loop,
sit smiddae in tea rooms en pubs –
walms sop, stew en sigarette
stoom by skoorstene uit

en saans vee die asems
van ou monnike oor jou nek
as jy deur die skadu's
van toring of hek
(Trinity, Christ's,
Caius of King's)
jou fiets oor die krakende ryp
huis toe stoot

1993


 

Themes | Cambridge


 

Dear diary it's winter

Translated from Afrikaans by Marí and Steve Peté
 


the sky here
has no colour,
the trees
wear wrinkled skins,
grey beards

in morning mist
breathing
students cross bridges,
crowd into tea rooms and pubs at noon,
soup smells, stew and cigarettes
rise from chimneys

at night
ancient monks
whisper in shadows
spired and arched
(Trinity Christ's
Caius or King's)
as you cycle home,
tyres crunching
in the frost

 1993



Themes | Cambridge





Halfronde


AUDIO



kyk hoe die son aan die blare lek
sag soos 'n kwas
gedoop in amper-rooi

die dae slyt
duim vir duim
sonloser september

ek soek soggens 'n venster
om tee te slurp
saam met 'n mad hatter
en 'n muis

kraak die eerste blare
onder kousvoete
snuif aan skoorstene
en ander gerugte in die lug:

suid bloei die bome
sneeuwit verskroeide skelette,
in die strate
breek lentereëns oop -
trane van 'n mock turtle,
oor lywe wat bid en bedel
om 'n wonderland
waar woorde
waar word


 

Vir Fran

2 September 1993
(Nasionale Vredesdag, Suid-Afrika)



Themes | Cambridge


 

North and south
 

Translated from Afrikaans by Marí and Steve Peté,
with input from Charl Fregona


AUDIO

 

the sun has touched the leaves
soft dipped brush
september days shrink here
inch by inch

I sip morning tea
by the window
with a mad hatter
and a mouse

scrunch the first leaves
beneath my socks
sense signals
from chimneys above:

in the south
trees blossom
bodies burn
in streets

tears of a mock turtle,
spring rains down
on those who beseech and pray
for wonderlands
where words
come true


 

2 September 1993
(National Peace Day, South Africa)


For Fran

Themes | Cambridge

Huiswaarts


 

lig jou voete veerlig,
vou jou voëllyf knus
om my swaar hart,
sweef vir oulaas
oor 'n winterland
vol verhale
oor faeries,
voer my heen -
eeue-oue bome
rye grou huisies
skoorstene, drome,
Midsummer Common
Jesus Green
my towertapyt
gly onder my uit,
smelt ineen soos slaap...

daal dan neer
jou pens vibreer
in die atmosfeer swaar van
son sout erfsondes
geslagte van voorlaaiers assegaai
stofreuke helder kleure
potte breyani potjiekos
sweet see groen heuwels

met my winterjas oor my arm
stap ek oor die warm teer
na mense agter glas,
wuiwende palms

Desember 1993



Themes | Cambridge
 


Homeward bound

Translated from Afrikaans by Marí and Steve Peté
 


embrace my heavy heart
as you ascend feather-light,
for the last time we glide
over a winter landscape
filled with tales
of faeries,
swoop over
ancient trees
row upon row
of grey houses
chimneys, dreams,
Midsummer Common
Jesus Green,
my magic carpet
dissolves into sleep...


 

then descend
belly vibrating
in the atmosphere
sun salt sins of fathers
generations of rifles and spears
smells dust bright colours
pots of breyani potjiekos
sweat sea green hills


 

winter coat on arm
I walk across the scorching tarmac
towards people behind glass,
waving palms


 

December 1993


 


Themes | Cambridge

_____________________________________________________

CHILDHOOD 
 

Kraaines (original Afrikaans) - Crow's Nest (Translated)


 

Kraaines



Dag na dag reguleer hul ons in rye

met roosters en liniale,

ons-vir-jou-suid-afrikas

kiertsregopgespriet

soos vlagpale

 

 beteuel hul ons

swaaiende poniesterte

gladde bene, sproete bruin broeke

skurwe hakskene –

 

wagtend vir die klok

om die deur uit te skrum

verby grensdrade

na bromponies en sportvelde

wyd…soos die Heer se genade.

 

Maar één keer op ’n dag in jou klas,

tweede van voor af by die venster,

stuur ek die kraaie van my oë

die blou van onse hemel in

 


om nuuskierig te sirkel

oor smeulende fabrieke en mynhope –

keer terug met blink skatte

wat ek tussen skelm kosblikke

en skewe rye tasse opgaar

 

terwyl jy

getrou, jaar na jaar

met lag-oë en jou sagte lyf

ons woord-eiers bewaak.

 
 

Vir Antjie, my Afrikaanse onderwyser & netbal-afrigter
te Hoërskool Patriot, Witbank, vanaf 1979-1982.





Themes | Childhood


 

Crow’s Nest

Translated from Afrikaans by the poet
 


 

Regulated day by day:

rows, rosters and rulers.

United we stand, young flag posts,

in South Africa

our land.



 

They tame

our swinging pony tails,

legs silky-shaved,

freckles brown trousers

red heels --



 

we wait...for the bell,

scrum through the door

race past border posts --

to scooters and sports fields

spacious as the Lord’s Grace.



 

But once a day in your class,

at the second desk by the window,

I send the crows of my eyes

into our blue skies



 

to circle curiously

over mine dumps and smoldering factories –

when they return to me

I stash their sparkling finds

among secret lunch boxes and scrumpled school bags



 

while you guard our word eggs

-- year after year, faithfully --

with laughing eyes

and soft lines.



 


For Antjie, my Afrikaans teacher & netball coach
at Hoërskool Patriot, Witbank, from 1978-1982.



 

Themes | Childhood
 

_________________________________

 

DURBAN
 

Durban Taxi
Buiteseisoen (original Afrikaans) - Off Peak Season (translated) 
Somer (original Afrikaans) - Summer (translated)
Umgeni Road 
Warwick Junction

 

 

Durban Taxi

 AUDIO


 

Angry Arab, In God We Trust,

Bombay Viking, Vanishing Queen...


 

Me Against the World, The Power of Love,

Downloading Virus, Brown Brothers, All Eyes on Me!

The Seducer, God's Gift No. 1, 2, 3...


 

Sweet Mama Sweet, As Good as it Gets,

Leave Me Alone, Walala Wahlala (you snooze, you loose...)

So So Def, We put the Beat on the Street...

 
 

Passion for Perfection, So You can't Handle the Pressure?

Heroes they Fall...but their Name Remains.

 
 

Ghetto Boyz, Nice & Slow,

Smokin Gun, Girlfriend, Eye Ball,

Thriller, Snow White, Piranha, Just Cruising,

Baby Bianca, Back in da Game,

Supreme Chilled, Midnight Express.

 
 

Why Not? What Ever!

Woza Friday, Changing Spike,

Get in Where You Fit in,

 
 

Nemesis, Aftermath,

Holy Night, Death Row,

 


All Rise.

 
 


Themes | Durban


 

Buiteseisoen



 

drie locals dryf

op klein deinings op en neer


 

‘n surfer stuur sy oë uit op ‘n meeu


 

dis twintig voor vyf op ‘n dinsdag,

nog ‘n mellow wintersmiddag


 

storte drup lui, die see

‘n waterverfprint uit die cna


 

God was hier

as jy my moet vra


 

Suidstrand, Durban 1987


 

Themes | Durban



Off-peak Season

Translated from Afrikaans by the poet





three locals buoy

up and down on small waves


 


on a gull, a surfer sends out his gaze




it’s twenty to five on a tuesday,

another mellow winters noon




showers drool, the sea

a kitch colour print from the cna


 



God’s been here

if I had to say





South Beach, Durban 1987

 


 

Themes | Durban


 

Somer


 

met ‘n klam lyf

wurm ek in

tussen ander wat jazz kom soek

koelgroen amstels stapel

oraloor die tafels

swaar is die lug

van sout en saksofoon

lywe wieg

weeg swaar op skewe stoele

van die Moon Hotel

wat steun

onder die geel pens

van die maan


 

Durban, 1992

 

Themes | Durban



Summer

 

Translated from Afrikaans by the poet




damp-bodied

I worm in

between others looking for jazz

coolgreen amstels stack

all over tables

the air heady

with salt and saxophone

bodies sway

weigh heavily on tilting chairs

of the Moon Hotel

that grunts

under the yellow belly

of the moon


 

Durban, 1992
 


 

Themes | Durban



Umgeni Road


 


piesang transport

pakistani take away strictly halaal

surgery jj moodley dokotela

gearbox & diff exchange

mazinov house

space television

joosab's supermarket

chacha's pawn shop

nabibya's fast food

suspension&alignment

jockey the next best thing 2B naked

it's time to ruffle your feathers

we deliver

royal vulcanizing

minty's mad tyres and mags

krash panel beaters

fatima's famous foods

zak's surprise butchery

bath&vanity surrounds

replacement body parts

fashion station

rust proofing

hansas body craft

port natal paint

bang bang payphones

azb halaal bunnies

mutton veg hot pies

living waters mission

swiss stone masons

sipsy's hardware

d maharaj dental surgeon

free customer parking

local services only

phoenix motorglass

bamatshe amathuna

rega religious-cultural society

buy-a-brick: ticket R2

win-a-TV

in aid of funds to build a hall

dear customer we apologise for any

inconvenience caused during

road construction, business as usual

crankshaft grinding block reboring

head overhauls canrod resizing

skim while you wait

gearboxes and difs

hot meals served

karam's food we are moving

bhoola optician

mo's centre

benji dog chunks taste and freshness

guaranteed factory prices

auto smash workshop

crazy special meaty bones

biltong hot chicken chaka laka

braai wors R2.99

prime cut meats special offer

boats rubber ducks jetskis & accessories

if not supply store

chappies take away

indawo ka dokotela

silveray tea room

fuck all you

brittania spares 4 africa

safety footwear gumboots & rainwear

daily soap

carlton strong... & gentle

 


Themes | Durban



 

Warwick Junction

 

AUDIO

Down by the crossing he waits for the light –

it turns green. He looks left, then right,

revs to go...but oh, a river of women

(in which he fears he could drown)

wells up towards his yellow bike.

 

They are not afraid!

Bodies sway in patterned cloth,

bananas bunched on heads,

babies on backs, beaded necks,

cell phone gossip and song.

 

Johnnyboy says a prayer

before he is flattened

by such sisterhood

 

but in the nick of time (as if

struck by a kierie*) the river parts,

a delta flows around him:

 

his fear dissolves

in smells of soap,

ginger root, and love

on balmy nights.

 

Further down where bunny chows are sold,

old apartheid stories told, the stream

snakes round, away...                                  

Johnnyboy blinks,

revs his bike.  The light

turns red     again.

 

 

*Kierie: walking stick (Afrikaans)            

 

*Bunny chow: a Durban delicacy – half or quarter loaf of white bread, hollowed out and filled with curry.  Then the soft insides of the bread are piled on top, and the bunny is wrapped in newspaper. No eating utensils are needed, and the bread serves as edible plate.  Rumour has it that bunnies were first served over the back doors of Durban restaurants where non-white patrons were not allowed during Apartheid.


http://www.marketsofwarwick.co.za

 

For John

 


Themes | Durban

 

_________________________________

  

 

LOVE AND MARRIAGE
 

Eve's delight (original Afrikaans) - Eve's delight (translation)
Threading



Eve’s delight

 

AUDIO

 

jou lyf is ‘n boom
waarin jy bly

reën stoot op in jou are
dam in die holtes van ‘n vlesige stam

jou bors het ‘n duikie vir drinkplek
daar’s ‘n klein fontein in jou mond

lekkerbekvrugte hang swaar van loom stingels
blare blinkvol sap

daar’s dou en tarzantoue in jou baard
ek wil ‘n boomhuis in jou bou

 


Themes | Love and marriage



Eve’s delight


Translated from Afrikaans by the poet


Your body is a tree
that you live in:
 

rain wells up in your veins,
dams in the dips of a fleshy stem.


Your chest has a small dent to drink from,
there’s a tiny spout in your mouth.


Fruit drape low from sleepy shoots,
leaves shimmer with sap.
 

In your beard are monkey ropes and dew,
I want to build a tree house in you.



 


Themes | Love and marriage
 



Threading

AUDIO


 

Scrutinising my box of threads

for the precise colour to match

a favourite garment I want to mend,

makes me recall yesterday morning –


 

a girl with blushing cheeks

leaning over to thread my brow…

“Make me look pretty – it’s my anniversary”, I said.

“Marriage is not easy, but it’s worthwhile.”


 

Threads between fingers, her voice chimed:

“Twenty three years? I’d like to do that one day –

it’s like keep fixing something,

not tossing it away.” 


 

My Love, that girl’s envy renewed my vow

to search more often for suitable shades

in my box of yarns, to mend and darn

our worn habits and faded gowns.





Themes | Love and marriage

_________________________________


MOTHERHOOD
 

Turning Six  |  Robberg

Turning six

AUDIO


 

Tonight the sea births a grapefruit moon.

Vanilla lilies bloom. The ceiling

goes see-through in her room.



She rises in a wispy gown.

Floats to the pond,

dips in her foot



then, for the first time,

ever so slow

webs

grow

between her toes.



She draws her breath, glides in –

strange words pour

through the gap in her teeth

into liquid night.



The earth rumbles.

Koi bellies glow.

Geckoes on the wall

turn into rainbows.

Sleeping monkeys stir in trees.

Moles mumble in holes.

Stars tumble through indigo.



In the morning she wakes

back in her bed, slips on a uniform,

shakes silver sprinkles from her hair.



At breakfast her dad grins,

her mom winks like the morning star:

“You’re old enough now to know.

Remember, though, out there

you’re an ordinary girl…”



 

Themes | Motherhood


 




Robberg


AUDIO


 

In Plettenberg Bay’s summer haze
you beam all-braces through wind-swept hair,
slide into a wetsuit, unaware of your early teen grace.
For the sake of mom-daughter time I squeeze into mine. 


Rubber duck skims the waves,
we cling to our seats. Frisky male tourists
grunt when they spot the Mountain of Seals.
Anchor drops like a blue diamond into the deep. 


“Watch her please, she’s anxious!”
I tell the guide with the shark shield.
Sunrays skim your gleaming shape
as you capsize over the edge, escape…


            I panic and plunge
    follow you down
     down…to white sand


                     shoot up for air gulp water -
            waves wash me to sharp rocks
           where seal pups squeal

        and     waddle     to     the     edge –


          They dive…dart around: deep under I find
             curious creatures suspended in space,
                 whiskered snouts pressed to your face.
 

Who’s mine, who’s pup?! Misted up and up-tight
I resign - join the more relaxed, fin-footed grown-ups –

further out we float on our backs,
scouting the surf for great whites.

 

And that was how, my little seal,
I learnt from moms in furry skins
before you left for boarding school
how letting go begins.




Themes | Motherhood
 

_________________________________


TECHNOLOGY

  To a printed book  |  Virtual conference on learning futures  | Artemis  |  Scribed Books Techno haiku  |  Please tick the boxKeyboard 


 


To a printed book

On using a Kindle for the first time



 AUDIO
 


Faint whiff of air

on eyelids, cheekbones

and the tip of your nose

when you measure what's read...

and what's left

between finger and thumb.


 

Bookmarks: autumn leaf.

Punched ticket from a train trip.

Small love note. Cigarette packet foil

with a telephone number embossed on it.


 

Flaws: fish moth; suntan oil stain;

tear drop or rain; dog ear (a sin!);

hand-written note scribbled in the margin.


 

Choice – of hard       or soft cover,

fonts that fit the story's mood,

spine stitched or glued?


 

Anchors. A date, place

and birthday wish on page 2.

Smells escape. Take you back

to Sunday afternoon blues.

Fairytales and faith. 


 

For Howard and Marleen


 

Themes | Technology


 



Virtual conference on learning futures


 

Thirty degrees south in steaming heat

I stumble towards laptop, creased from sleep,

first virtual conference begging:


 

construct from walk-in closet on the screen

(while dunking rusks in rooibos tea)

a sassy chic in a boyish suit –

the me that delegates should rather meet.


 

Settled in, keyboards clicking, hello chirps sift

like small soft feathers onto my screen:

fellow delegates wrapped in scarves

sipping Ceylon and Darjeeling

report they are all snowed in.


 

Proceedings begin, keynote speaker greets in video,

speaks of learning through play,

to do things in a different way.

Ways of the future?  Audience spell-bound,   

all bodes well for orderly beginnings.  

Then, while the presenter is still speaking


 

like the

            first    

                        plump    

                                    raindrop

            on a thirsty plane


 

someone posts a comment for everyone to see


 

...and everyone jumps in – a cloudburst of text

pours across the savannah of my flat screen:

cryptic thoughts, critique, opinions.

I wait for the chair to call for order, instead

she picks up on some points, passes it on,

the speaker fields questions in between.

Squeezed against my comfort zone's seams,

I lurk and learn...     


 

then leap in,

abandoning manners meant for

face to face ways of being –


 

download       read                text furiously             field emails

welcome an unexpected guest at the door            dash to the corner store      do a few chores     soothe a child on my lap, blog a few lines keep my boss happy feed a family (and the cats) upload pics to a photostream, tweet in between --                  


 

lost                  in layers of learning,

new ways of being.


 

Eight days later at close of proceedings

time is announced for conference dinner.

Bandwidth kaput, multitasked out,

I sip solo sundowners South, swat mosquitoes

in the breeze of mangoes and sea.


                                                                       

North, delegates settle snug under eiderdown...

while somewhere in the cyber sky

their avatars in Second Life stilettos

dance and play the night away.



Themes | Technology



Artemis


 

Artemis*, you trawl down trails,

navigate by scent and spoor

of Snow Leopard and Firefox*.

In the cloud round towers and huts

friends and rivals lurk and play.

In this web you hunt ideas.

Dreams adorned by Blackberries*,

you're always watched...never lost.


 

*Artemis: The divine huntress is the Greek goddess of the wild, childbirth, and protector of young girls. 

*Snow Leopard: Apple Mac computer operating system

*Firefox: a web browser

*Blackberry: a mobile phone brand popular among tweens and teens

For Gita



 

Themes | Technology




 

Scribed


 

it's dark here in jasmine scent

wooden slats are semi-drawn


 

the garden holds its breath:


 

enclosed in swirls of orange light

a long, fine brush dips in black ink


 

writes rhythmically from right to left


 

a silent pledge on ivory curves

from coccyx to the base of neck


 


Themes | Technology


 

Books


 

Fingertapping the iPad screen

I zip through Tolstoy,

grateful for the absence of weight

and being less crowded in.

But if I were

hopscotch playing Hana in Tuscany,

entering the villa's dark library

I'd choose...Ana Karenina. Or – War and Peace

in its fullest, heaviest leather-bound form –

on my way up to bathe the burnt body

and read to soothe the English patient's* soul,

I'd wedge a volume or two as steps

in the bombarded staircase's gaping holes.


 

*The English Patient is Michael Ondaatje's Booker Prize winning novel.



 

For Brian


Themes | Technology



 

techno haiku


 

man alone, reading,

his iPad glows in the dark –

no paper rustling


 

spring outing with friends,

teenagers' fingers clicking:

blackberry picking


 

dinner is ready –

they settle round the TV,

praying mantises


 

while he wears headphones

the music of thunderstorms

sails by silently


 

midnight bedroom sky

gleam with electronic eyes...

haiku help me sleep 

Themes | Technology



 

Please tick the box


 

Dear Research Submissions,


 

On behalf of Ms Subramoney and I,

please find attached a checklist and paper:


 

e-Learning readiness of 1st year students,

in Wellness SA. Volume 2, December 2017.


  
Kindly confirm if this would do

to generate state subsidy.


 

*


 

Dear Ms Peté, thank you. Although,

you should tick the original list

to meet their criteria. 


 

They need to know —

are authors Asian, Black,

Coloured, White, etcetera?


 

*


 

Dear Madam,

Possible options are:


 

Homo sapiens.    However

with us so close to chimpanzees,

genetic testing might prove necessary.


 

After a car crash I had steel in my femur.

Am I bionic? 

             Later pins were removed --

             can one change groups?


 

I use mobile devices, often.

Siri’s my slave when I drive.

In between meetings


 

I hide in wifi coffee shops -- teach on my phone,

also in queues like Mr Price and Pick ‘n Pay --


 

track engagement to boost throughput,

up quality assurance and productivity.


 

On third thoughts, I might border on cyborg?


 

Apologies for grey areas, distortions.

Before I tick the box:


 

  1. Is confidentiality guaranteed
    for these confessions?

  1. Will the government cover genetic tests,
    or is it for my account?

  1. How will my classification affect
    the amount the university receives
    and the researcher’s proportion?


 

Best wishes, Marí



Themes | Technology
 


Keyboard


 

I got by until I was thirty three,
index fingers searching for keys,
cricking my neck or clinging to memory
to quote from the text to my left.


Then I saw him.
For all my years, other professors
stood suited in front.
We circled
behind his chair.


(He wore his hair in a ponytail,
shaved it for CANSA* each year.
Confessed to dyslexia.
Kept his small sons near
while proctoring exams


for which we could not crib.
Projects were deliciously outrageous:
 

Crack the code -- leave graffiti
on the virtual classroom's walls;
Build a hypertext float for RAG*; Or,
Make a memorable project to show
how learning could be made
more memorable."


We did them all. Guinea pig M Eds*
in the Wild West Web.)


Where was I? Hands...
he typed, that day --
fingers flying over the keys
like bolts of light.......bulbs went on
in my head.        

                     I want to do THAT.
 

He gave us a reading that said,
the hands and feet of genius
is automaticity.*

Back at the office,
first ten minutes of my day
I did touch-type drills
to master my moves with QWERTY,


free memory. No more
two-fingered fumbling.
 

While reading a text, I jive my fingers
jiggle the HOTS*; make eye contact
over the screen in droning meetings,
 writing-juggling rhythmically
   essays-theses-poetry.


 

* CANSA: the Cancer Association of South Africa

* RAG: student fundraising for charity

* Bloom, B.S. 1986. The hands and feet of genius. "Automaticity". Educational 
   Leadership. February 1986. 70-77.

* M Eds: Master's of Education students

* HOTS: Higher Order Thinking Skills


 

For Professor Johannes Cronjé




Themes | Technology