diary of a red chicken: day 3
words melt in his throat, emerge dark as honey
the night’s clamminess ushering in the rattletrap dance of skeletons
against the horizon. they are legion, like the sands of the sea
and the skulls in the sand the sailors the explorers the wanderers
and the prisoners on this island,
but they are silent:
i have died in multiple ways
each death a parting and a return
i know no longer know from whence i came.
What is departure? What is return?
taste the earth—
no, taste the earth,
go down on your hands and knees
dig down below the browned hide
to where the desert sand throbs a darkened red
fill your fingernails with this soil, let it sink again black as honey,
this ink of my body, into the blotting paper of the desert
taste the earth,
feel it, feel its textures and its joys weeping to the surface
like water at an oasis: the sorrow
the heartache, the bones of the ancestors drying in the poisoned wells
taste this earth and feel its pain
taste the earth
blotted with the ink of many bodies
sometimes words do not speak to him
sometimes the drought of this desert pervades his thoughts
sometimes months pass this way and he withers
oh! the anguish!
oh! the heartstopping breath!
Where are they, these windswept words?
Where are they, these bittered and dried !naras
These fleshy, honeyed sounds that rail against the poet’s frail body?
They come with the spring rain, settle like tumbrils against desert fences
A gemsbok searches for dew among the vygies: monks spread red as words in the sand
on and on and on and on these lines left breathless settle into words, wounds
Peter Midgley writes in both English & Afrikaans. His poems have appeared in the South African magazines, Literator & New Coin. Peter's first collection of poetry, perhaps I should/miskien moet ek, appeared in 2010.