a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
up from the lawn’s parched straw and departs; an olive thrush bounces
through the sour orange’s discarded leaf litter; but my pen
hardly cares to record such things, so alien is cool air.
After last night’s rain, the first for months, here’s a green tumescence,
a straightening of the world’s shoulders, an audible gasping,
momentary pause. Resuscitation, no doubt, however brief.
No fire, no persecution, no hungry flame. Not yet, not yet.
I lie down, face and nose rough upon the soil’s prickling stubble,
attracted by its itching rooted musk of personage, sun
sneaking through the clouds, hot on my shirt, and I wish this marriage
of dry earth and sky every success, a match struck in heaven.
But, for now, their arduous relationship speaks of neglect,
pain, punishment, of cruel abuse, though they can’t separate,
no question of divorce. How far they have journeyed together!
Nothing will ever change except the weather. Nowhere to go.
And suffering’s part of the deal, ain’t it? Love so commonly sears.
Submit now, pet, behave: do as you’re told. Give it all you’ve got.
An unlubricated drongo rasps, rattles in the fig tree
amid flurries of early leaf-fall. The hoopoe has vanished.
he steps outside. Something growls as if warning him away
but that’s all it is; no imminent attack.
There may, or may not, be a storm. Probably not,
he thinks, but the air’s hot, dense, a touch fanatical,
and its burgeoning fever needs to break soon.
Still high summer, but the trees believe it’s autumn,
sacrificial leaves falling to crisp brown drifts in the dust.
Their world sags, kneels for pardon, reprieve. Or the axe.
Endurance is the only virtue left. Where are those frogs
that bake themselves for years in Kalahari sand,
dreaming of that sacred kiss of rain, of resurrection
when all the sleeping beauties awaken? He is no prince
but knows it will happen, it must come. Just hold on.
Just hold on.
Originally from Liverpool, England, Harry Owen moved to South Africa’s Eastern Cape in 2008. Outspoken in his commitment to the natural world and to social equity, as well as a passionate advocate of poetry, he is the author of seven collections, the latest being The Cull: new and resurrected poems (Poets Printery, East London, South Africa, 2017). He has edited three anthologies with the same publisher – I Write Who I Am: an anthology of Upstart poetry (2011); For Rhino in a Shrinking World: an international anthology (2013); and (forthcoming in 2019) Coming Home: poetry of the Grahamstown diaspora. Harry hosts the popular monthly open floor event called Reddits Poetry in Grahamstown, where he lives, and writes a poetry column called Poetic Licence for Grocott’s Mail, South Africa’s oldest independent weekly newspaper.