Floss M. Jay’s A Drawer Full of Flowers

Floss M. Jay was born in 1948 and grew up in the KwaZulu-Natal Midands. She was educated variously at Gem’s Farm School in Dargle, St John’s DSG and Girls’ High School in Pietermaritzburg, the University of Natal in Durban and in Pietermaritzburg, UNISA and the University of the Witwatersrand. She has taught Drama and English at schools and Universities, trained teachers and now practises from home as a psychotherapist in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal. She lives with her husband, John Morrison, in Pietermaritzburg, and has three children: Emma, Alice and Guy.

Floss M. Jay

About A Drawer Full of Flowers

Here is a generous volume of poems that invites the reader to experience the “unguarded immediacy, intimacy and frankness” of a poetic voice described by her editor, Lionel Abrahams, as that of a “priestess of feeling”. The language she uses is akin to that which may be used in a sensitive woman’s letters to her intimates but is distinguished as poetic by the expressive imagery used.
Floss M. Jay has selected poems written over a time-span of thirty years and arranged them in four sections. Each section reflects a theme coalesced in moments of feeling. In the notes “About the Poet”, flowers are seen in her life as metaphorically present and blooming, absent, lost and dead or as a living part of her being. The sections take their titles from poems included in the volume and, in turn, they manifest exhilaration (Eating Jewellery), the necessary structures of human living (Bones), the very dark passages of human experience (In the Belly of the Whale) and the gentling acceptances we may be fortunate to arrive at sometimes (Bridged with Stillness).
Summer Paintings in Europe
Floss M. Jay

June, 1993
Oh – and these are not paintings:
This shoulder of wheaten gold
tumbling across the low hill
susceptible to breeze and wind
as Van Gogh predicted.
And these three brides with their men,
festive and naïve,
across the warm cobble-stones,
trailing yards of white lace,
trains of children, friends and strangers
across the dust,
weaving a visible serpent of Romance
through the village
to the wedding feast:
these are living within my grasp.
This small metal sculpture
Giacometti made
standing free of the page
in a courtyard,
its thin edges clean
against the light:
it is a man
with attitude
manifesting cautious, poised loss,
it is cold and real
against my skin.
And the girl
framed in the coffee-shop door
reading a book
dark cool behind her,
cream hair lighting her shoulders
and the sun bathing the courtyard that divides us:
she is flesh and blood.
At this distance,
home trickles imperceptibly away
taking on a waiting role,
somehow in the wings,
painted on memory-pages.
from A Drawer Full of Flowers (Selected Poems 1980 – 2010)
(umSinsi Press, 2010)
Order A Drawer Full of Flowers.

4 thoughts on “Floss M. Jay’s A Drawer Full of Flowers

  1. Julie

    I can just see the girl framed in the coffee shop door. Yes, she is flesh and blood. The brides. The cold, metal statue. It is all so alive in these words. What a beautiful poem.

  2. jack sender

    Your scene set me into an Italian village.
    How pleasant to see a reference to Alberto Giacometti, my first favorite artist – so long ago.

  3. Floss

    Glad it is evocative for you – the scene was there, in the Italian region of Switzerland! It feeds me still.

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