Karin Schimke is a journalist, columnist, author, poet, writing tutor and the Cape Times books editor. She lives in Cape Town.
This is how willing
If grey speaks your eyes
and black curls your hair
if careful walks your feet
and sore swells your lips
If she (or she, or she) haunts you
and pity breaks you
and worry hobbles you
and weakness cracks you
If fear clatters your teeth
and nightmares dream you
if your tower crumbles
and you live only one more day
and never lift your hand again
to shield the darkness from your gaze
and only if your want reaches me
and only if your wounds let me
I will stand beside you
in the black cold cave
and let fireflies nest my hair.
Give us this day our daily ceasefire
In the day we pass a package
between us: heavy with exasperation,
spiky with misunderstanding, alive with fury.
In sleep softened
we reach across it
across continents –
to palpate the flesh of “sorry”
and “I hate this”
never sure which to grasp:
these dumbly reaching limbs,
or that ticking package.
Of course it was perfect: it could never outlast the night.
I remember tumbling
and tumbling all night
through hot sheets
and your mouth
and through sleep.
The day came late; it found us
drifting in the wreck.
I want to lick the plate where the Bratwurst lay
but I’m in the deli. I go to the cold meats counter:
a pile of thick-sliced Leberkäse, a fistful of Viennas,
rare roast beef slivered off a giant brown and pink hunk,
plate-sized slices of Gypsy Ham,
a full-deck of lavender and white back bacon,
chicken breasts and thighs in an orgy of marinade,
creamy pork bangers neatly spooning beneath cling film.
Meatballs for chicken soup.
Lamb chops for later
A roast for Sunday.
I am carnivorous and out of control.
I push my flesh-laden trolley to the till,
count out bills like Monopoly money.
I am in the thrall of a vast hunger,
a terrible protein injunction.
Images of naked rumps and bellies,
of plates and palates, crowd around
the table of my mysterious need.
A baby in a pram waves his chubby legs at me.
I want to bite his thigh.
from Bare & Breaking (Modjaji Books, 2012).
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