Fiona Zerbst was born in Cape Town in 1969. She has lived in Johannesburg and Cape Town and spent six months in Ukraine and Russia in 1995. She published two books of poetry, Parting Shots (Carrefour Press) in 1991 and The Small Zone (Snailpress) in 1995. “Soliloquy” and “Calendar” are from Fiona’s third collection, Time and again (UCT Younger Poets Series in association with Snailpress, 2002).
I listen. Everything that used to be
invades my room and silence in the air
that nurtures me, contains the sullen care
I feed on, sucks the future out of me.
In all this time, a memory would be
too sad; an inappropriate goodbye
might slip from me, or silence, with a sigh,
become some dubious poetry.
Protect me from the wordlessness of lips.
Come back and be the talk that can sustain
my breath, and be the one thing to remain
intact in every solitude that grips
my mind. The darkness forming on the stair
could be my last, my greatest, love affair.
Tonight you’re struck
by miniature things.
A prickle of light,
a shadow of wings:
the shimmer a moth
gives off as it flutters
over the grass
away from the gutter
covered with leaves.
By saying his name,
you, too, fly dumbly
into a flame.
You’ve heard him leave.
The hunger within
dies down a while,
forgets its own din.
You look at the clock:
it mirrors your face
and all alterations
made in this place –
your social agenda
tacked to the wall,
the calendar picture
silent and small
beside the black numbers,
That picture: distraction.
Those numbers: the end