Sarah Frost’s Conduit

  
 
Sarah Frost is 37 years old and a single mother to a six year old boy. She works as an editor for Juta Legalbrief in Durban. She has been writing poetry for the past fourteen years. She has completed an MA in English Literature, and also a module on Creative Writing, through UKZN. She has been published in various South African journals, and also some in the United States of America. Her first collection, Conduit, is published by Modjaji Books.
 
 
 

  
 
 
Conduit is a book of pared-down poems graphically tracking a young girl’s journey from the lonely spaces of childhood to the creative, powerful realm of womanhood. At times stark, Sarah Frost’s formal yet tentative grappling with the experiences of being a daughter, a mother, and a lover, reveals the growth of a strong, yet guarded poetic persona.
 
 
 
“These are poems of drowning and coming up again. Of surviving with lungs that breathe water and sunlight. These are poems of longing and loss. Of searching for a foothold in a world where all slides and changes. Sarah Frost is a new voice in South African poetry. A clear and strong and exciting voice. Read her.”
 
– Kobus Moolman
 
 
 
Grahamstown
  
On the slopes the charred spines of the winter pines.
The town still in the valley below,
a pulse just visible in the soft hollows of a skull.
 
Lonely the forest road billowing sunset-red
for a girl on her bicycle, going home.
 
For her there can be no leaving, yet. Nothing to find.
Just a waiting as gradual as the evening train
shunting its heavy load free of the station.
 
Bed time, and the wind chime jangles.
Beyond the glass, a planet stark against the sky.
 
Restless, she turns under her covers at dawn,
hearing a truck shift down to its lowest gear.
The deep engine roar judders on the highway, departing.
 
 
 
Ménage-à-trois
 
The capsicum pot-plant tilts,
as you carry it precariously,
speaking of your wife, and how you owe her flowers.
 
Carting my own star-jasmine tethered to a wooden stick
to where we parked – we came separately –
I feel the cake we shared at the café above the nursery,
sit heavy in my stomach like woe.
 
You turn your car around and with a careful wave,
drive off, leaving me, hot-faced, heavy –
scrabbling to collect the coins that just fell out of my purse
into the gravel in the gutter.
 
Like a CD track stuck
the old song reverberates in my head
‘the girl at the window/
waited all day for her father to come home/
thought that if she flirted with him/
he might love her more.’
 
At the table beneath the spreading fig tree,
I let you see my black bra-strap slip
from behind my green-yoked dress.
Felt your glance stroke my hair,
as you told me about paying your bond (and hers).
 
Your dessert fork glinted in the dappled light,
itching to wound.
My serviette, smeared red,
crumpled on a side plate.
 
 
 
One year in
 
We argue all night, until I ask you to leave.
The next day we walk along the promenade.
I want to view the sea between the trees, but
you pull me back, showing me wild jasmine.
 
We find a bench on the dune.
Below us, a family; a woman
smears sun-cream onto a man’s face.
A brother and sister build a sandcastle.
 
You want this. For us, you’ve said.
I know I must relinquish my other search,
a father I have lost and survived;
but still the longing, an ache in the throat.
 
The sun glares, and waves barrage the beach.
I watch the small girl wrap her legs
around her daddy’s waist, a limpet, not letting go.
 
 
 
You stroked my face
 
The Southern Cross, like a spoon
dips into the city bowl
scoops up the harbour lights,
the distant rattle of ships leaving,
freight trucks returning.
 
A fruit bat swoops into branches,
elusive as an unanswered question.
 
Saying goodbye, the man I want
so much it makes me silent,
kisses my face on both sides,
then turns away, shouldering the night.
 
Indoors, I lay my restless son down to sleep,
my fingers stroking love across his face.
I recollect the way you, my father, traced my forehead so,
when I was a child, when you held me during storms.
 
My tears prickle like dry grass against a bare foot
for what came later; for what you did not do,
for the leaving, and the staying away.
 
 
 
from Conduit (Modjaji Books, 2011).
 
Order Conduit from cdhiggs@gmail.com.

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