Joan Metelerkamp’s Burnt Offering

Body of work
Joan Metelerkamp

  
As coming upon
a puff-adder coiled on the carpet
under the desk
  
or a boomslang
slithered off out of its tracks
then its skin and later even
its bones …
  
perhaps they didn’t even know it
was done when it was done,
those alchemists,
  
perhaps it felt too easy –
like waking drugged out of sleep still
sloughing it off –
  
maybe they didn’t even feel better
for a while, if at all
after all
  
they didn’t know what they were doing
when they started
nor how terrible they’d feel
nor for how long –
  
they were dead scared
was it the fear itself or was it the fear
of mercury poisoning or the poisoning itself
  
god’s truth they must have got sick of it –
right arms aching down to the little finger
right side of the head aching
right down the back aching
  
sick of it sick of that vocation that exhaustion that compulsion
to make something of something as nothing
as love making matter what mattered
so little to anyone else if at all –
 
ridicule, poverty, social ostracism
they weren’t worried about those they worried
about their work
not working their fear not resolving
  
what they knew: what they were
working on
their material, their metal, to make
come like the mysterious body
  
they didn’t want to end up with
the same stuff they started with
the residue of the time before
  
all they knew they were
burning thickening melting
into air finding wanting
all they could ever hope for
  
  
From Burnt Offering (Modjaji Books, 2009).
  
Read my interview with Joan on Litnet.
  
To purchase Burnt Offering, contact Colleen Higgs at Modjaji Books: cdhiggs@gmail.com.
  
Launch
  

You are cordially invited to Burnt Offering’s launch – Joan will be reading – at the Cape Town Book Fair on 14 June 2009 from 17h30 to 18h30 at the DALRO Stage in the CTICC exhibition halls.

3 thoughts on “Joan Metelerkamp’s Burnt Offering

  1. Christine

    I love the rhythm of this poem, as if mimicking the action of the work. You know so many talented writers, Michelle. Birds of a feather… .

  2. Julie

    !!! The exclamation points must come first:) Excellent poem. I had to read it over, because I was hypnotized by those first two stanzas. Christine’s so right about the rhythm. This stanza…wow:

    sick of it sick of that vocation that exhaustion that compulsion
    to make something of something as nothing
    as love making matter what mattered
    so little to anyone else if at all –

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