The poem was read aloud and seemed to touch everyone, but in different ways. Some people looked down as they walked past, while the words whirled around them; some slowed their steps and absorbed the whole poem; some were not sure what was going on, but a change in their pace was evident as words clung to their winter clothes like burrs. The poem enhanced everything and its pathos mingled with the aromatic smells of red-orange-yellow spices and condiments that came from inside the shop to contrast against the cold sky. In a nearby house, across the road, the table was spread with almonds-dates-figs-pistachios and glasses of honeyed mint tea.
On seeing dawn over the vlei at Waylands Farm
As when a swallow darts across the lake
dipping to catch mid-flight a floating fly,
the bird and its reflection move as one:
two pairs of wings, two flights, one pattern make.
The bird above lives, breathes, will one day die;
its copy waits below, life hath it none.
So I, earth-shackled, in suspension be
till thou, my heart, dip earthward in thy flight
and kiss thy mirrored image on my face.
Thus thine on mine imprinted wilt thou see,
and as thou risest up through heaven’s light
with stronger wings to draw me too to grace,
although at first it seemed that thou didst die –
in clearer light thou art more real than I.
Jane Fox is one of the 149 poets included in Africa! My Africa! She is a novelist, poet, and biographer.
Africa! My Africa!