Wednesday, April 27, 2016

In Praise of the Men of Cape Town

Last Saturday I was at a poetry workshop where we share the poems we have  written during the past month. Many of these poems had the theme of violence against women, This was not surprising when you consider the shocking cases that have been recently reported in the media. I was feeling most depressed thinking about this as I was taking my dogs for a walk. But then I looked about me and what I saw lifted my spirits and made me happier.

The suburb where I live contains a mixture of large old houses, dilapidated tenements, gated
complexes and cheaply-built modern flats and the inhabitants are similarly mixed. It was late afternoon and there were  all sorts of people walking about. These were the happy sights I saw:
I saw a young man cheerfully helping his pregnant wife with her shopping, and an old man gently leading his disabled spouse over the road. I saw a new father proudly cradling his tiny month-old daughter. I saw a grandfather happily chatting to his daughter as he pushed a grandchild's pram. I saw a father smiling at his two daughters, who were jumping up and down with excitement because he was taking them on an outing to the beach. All around I saw these men, good men, strong men, real men.

You mothers and fathers of boys. Teach your sons to recognise  real men like these, to celebrate them, admire them and aspire  to be like them.

Thursday, April 14, 2016


Just over a week ago I had a very unexpected experience. I had to be carted off to hospital in an ambulance. This is something that has never happened to me before. I have seldom been in hospital and never found myself regarded as an "emergency" But I must say that if one has to be hospitalised, Constantiabergis a good choice. I was most impressed with the kindness and care I received. there.
This episode has made me realise how unpredictable life can be. I am now much more hesitant when making long-term plans. Two trips are scheduled for later this year. The first, a weekend at the McGregor poetry festival in August, the second,a trip to Hogsback with Cynthia in October. I now almost regret arranging them. My health, once so reliable, now can't be trusted to hold out that long.
But, perhaps I feel this way because I am still recovering, Convalescence is slow when you are over eighty. I may feel differently in a week or so.

I hope my little chapbook will be in print by August. Then I can take it to McGregor. "The last to leave" sold quite well in 2014, but that was after I had read my poems.. Steph and I both have small books to sell. We should be able to move some of them after doing our readings. I am looking forward to doing a presentation with Stephanie. Her work is so clever and so funny. Her poems are different from mine, but I think complement them.



I seem to have lost the last post. (That sounds ominous "Last Post"is the call over graves.) I wanted to add some poems, so I minimised it and that seems to have made it disappear, What it was about was just the unpredictability of life, especially life when you're over eighty. On Easter Sunday, ievening, i had just enjoyed a lovely day; the morning with my Grandson Luke and the afternoon with Danielle and Tyler. then, suddenly,in the night, a gastro attack. I had to call the nurses. they helpedme and in the morning, had Christo call an ambulance. He told me later, that he was the one who notified, Luke and said how relieved he was, to find that Luke was in Cape Town and not back in George.

Being carted off in an ambulance was a new experience for me. It was also a new experience to be in a hospital ward, immobilised, attached to a drip.  I must say that if one has to be in hospital, Constantiaberg is a good place to be. I was impressed by the kindness and care I received there.

This experience has made me think twice about making long-term plans. I used to take my rude health for granted. Now I know it can no longer be relied upon. Two trips are scheduled for later this year. : Steph and I are going to McGregor in August and in October I am going to Hogsback with Cynthia. I almost regret having made these arrangements. Perhaps when I am more fully recovered I will feel differently.

I am going to try again to post a poem relating to the experiences referred to above.

Bright lights shine in the corridor
outside my door. I hear footsteps.
People walk up and down.
In the next ward someone coughs
another moans incessantly.
A tap drips in a basin. I can’t get up
to turn it off
I lie
caught like an insect in a web of tubes
that dangle from the ceiling,
imprisoned by liquid dripping
into fragile veins.

The cougher stops, the moans cease too.
Perhaps they both have died.
I think of dying, joining loved ones,
husband, parents, dearest friends
Do they wait for me?
Dreaming of them, slide into sleep
and then a big, black, male nurse comes,
wakes me, adjusts the drip.
The coughs and moans start up again,
I hear
soft conversations in the passages.
Somebody rings a bell.
Time crawls, the night goes on.