After what feels like two thousand years
I find you under the permafrost.
I dig and dig until your twelve frozen horses
spring up in their red felt masks and ibex horns.
You must have ridden each one to heaven
in your high headdress with its gold foil frieze
of Celestial Mountains, your crest
of winged snow leopards and antlered wolves
with eagle tines. When you ask me to stay
I know this is the afterlife.
Megan Hall was born and grew up in Cape Town and studied at the University of Cape Town. She has worked in the publishing industry since 1995 and is currently publishing manager for dictionaries and school literature in English at Oxford University Press Southern Africa.
Her poetry has appeared in various local journals since 1991, as well as in the school anthology Worldscapes. A short story was published in Botsotso 14 and an essay of hers was included in Leaves to a Tree, edited by Robin Malan. She has also edited poetry and fiction for New Contrast and taken part in both Young Voices (the 2004 South African Online Writers’ Conference hosted by LitNet) and the 2005 Crossing Borders programme, a British Council-sponsored writer’s mentorship. She lives in Cape Town with her partner, daughter and cat.
“Be warned. If you interpret the job as I have done – that being poet laureate means not just writing poems but trying to champion poetry – you will find there is an unimaginable difference between leading a relatively private life and the public life suddenly required of you.”
Helen Ivory won an Eric Gregory Award in 1999. Her second Bloodaxe collection, The Dog in the Sky, was published in 2006. She is an editor for the Poetry Archive, a judge for the PBS Pamphlet choice and teaches creative writing at UEA, at Norwich University College of the Arts and for the Arvon Foundation.
The palace of windows is burning tonight
and the city is the colour of amber.
Firemen scale the impossible walls
to rescue rats and spiders.
The staircase that curls like a shell
makes a fine spectacle
as if this were the flaming stairway
to all hell itself.
To the very hell that turns glass
into piles of sand that must be swept
and swept again, and still again
forever through windy corridors.