Tag Archives: South African prose poem

Liesl Jobson’s 100 Papers

This year, Liesl Jobson’s collection of prose poems and flash fiction, 100 Papers, was published by Botsotso Publishing.  Many of the prose poems and flash fiction in the volume were originally published in popular literary journals and anthologies.

Catch the Bouquet
Liesl Jobson

The hydrangea blooms on the west side of the bushes are every lush shade from purple to blue.  Protected by the afternoon shadow of the house, they retain their colour like reticent bridesmaids, away from the glare of speculation and gossip.  On the east side of the bushes, the morning light has burned the blossoms, leaving them pale as work shirts in the laundry basket, their tips covered in brown blisters like rust spots hissing from a steam iron the new bride forgot to empty.  The leaves below are cool and thick, their veins protected.  The new bride hides in the shadow of the house.  With her bum on the grass and her back to the wall she is invisible from inside.  She strokes the wooded stalks, the unspoiled blooms temporary between her fingers as the lilac-ribboned favours at the reception, wishing now she’d worn the bridesmaid’s dress instead.

An Owl at my Ankle
Liesl Jobson

Today is the first day, my new teenager, since you left me as a woman. I wear your socks to work – the ones with gold stars, weird birds. Your feet now are bigger than mine, but the socks fit nicely. While I teach Grade Two to sing ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’, a turquoise owl alights on my ankle, grooms its pink-spotted wings with an orange beak, eyes blinking, polishes its glittering purple halo on its puffy breast.

It drums on the tambourine, dances on the xylophone, shakes its birdy shoulders and flies out through the triangle dangling from the music stand. A small boy finds a curling feather under the piano stool.

“Your owl left you a message,” he says, handing it to me. I look at the plume, look at the boy.

“I cant read the words,” I say.

“Don’t you understand Owlish?”


“It’s easy,” says the boy, “if you hold the feather to the light.”

He stares into the sun, squints at the minute ciphers inscribed on the spine, and reads aloud to me, “I never said you could borrow my funky socks.”