Spotlighting Pan-African Poetry

Biography

Laughter, Like Water

Enlarge poem

My sister and I spent an afternoon once, in the shower block
of a desert campsite, soaking under the spray,

after a morning in the sun, breathing in the hot dry wind
that whipped our unbound hair about our faces.

Standing barefoot on the rough concrete floor,
gaps in a thatched roof showing blue Kalahari sky,

our laughter flowed with the warm water
as we ran our fingers through the tangles.

Heedless, wasteful, as children often are, we drenched ourselves
in the laughter and the water and the shafts of light

and emerged into the still afternoon, hair and thoughts
combed smooth by the water and the laughter.

I never dreamed then that laughter, like water, could run dry.
Now my fingers catch in the knots, thoughts tangling,

and I dream of that one spring afternoon, long ago,
when the desert flowed with laughter, like water, and light.

Megan van der Nest

Featured Poem:

Lizard & Dad and the Pigeons

Enlarge poem

LIZARD

I am also wearing blue,
little lizard,
though your orange-rimmed spectacles
are more colourful than mine.
I am hiding, just like you
from my hawk-eyed friends
who shriek and laugh
far back from the ledge.
I have climbed down
barefooted, just like you
to where the heat
from the sun-baked rock
blankets the sound
to claw the dry earth
and lose myself in the silence.
We are kindred, you and I,
stretched out
on the edge of the world,
sharing the vertical views
between treetops and sky,
storing time with the sunshine
in our skins.

DAD AND THE PIGEONS

My father wages war
on the birds and the crickets

that make our garden home,
or so my mother tells me;

Each day a new report
of restless nights spent hunting

the sounds of crickets
who are never where their voices are,

and water gun battles with the pigeons
who come seeking shelter.

Perhaps once he was content
to let the sounds sooth the night,

the wild things nestle close.
Now he demands a tidy silence.

Now he stills the singing
with buckets for drowning.

Now he lays spikes on the roof,
as if to barricade even the sky.

How does this featured poem make you feel?

  • Amazement (0)
  • Pride (0)
  • Optimism (0)
  • Anger (0)
  • Delight (0)
  • Inspiration (0)
  • Reflection (0)
  • Captivation (0)
  • Peace (0)
  • Amusement (0)
  • Sorrow (0)
  • Vigour (0)
  • Hope (0)
  • Sadness (0)
  • Fear (0)
  • Jubilation (0)

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Biography

Megan van der Nest was born and raised in Johannesburg and currently lives in Grahamstown, where she is a postgraduate student at Rhodes University, working towards a PhD in English Literature. She holds two Masters Degrees, one in Philosophy and one in Creative Writing. She has worked as a Philosophy lecturer at the University of Fort Hare, and as a facilitator for the annual creative writing course offered by the Institute for the Study of English in Africa at Rhodes University. She studied music as an undergraduate and was a member of the East Cape Opera Company for two years. She now sings with the Rhodes University Chamber Choir. Her poetry has been published in New Coin, Aerial and ITCH Online, and her poem Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Rhino (after Wallace Stevens) was included in the 2012 anthology For Rhino in a Shrinking World, edited by Harry Owen. The inspiration for her poetry is drawn from simple moments of family life and from the natural world.

Megan van der Nest

Biography

Megan van der Nest was born and raised in Johannesburg and currently lives in Grahamstown, where she is a postgraduate student at Rhodes University, working towards a PhD in English Literature. She holds two Masters Degrees, one in Philosophy and one in Creative Writing. She has worked as a Philosophy lecturer at the University of Fort Hare, and as a facilitator for the annual creative writing course offered by the Institute for the Study of English in Africa at Rhodes University. She studied music as an undergraduate and was a member of the East Cape Opera Company for two years. She now sings with the Rhodes University Chamber Choir. Her poetry has been published in New Coin, Aerial and ITCH Online, and her poem Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Rhino (after Wallace Stevens) was included in the 2012 anthology For Rhino in a Shrinking World, edited by Harry Owen. The inspiration for her poetry is drawn from simple moments of family life and from the natural world.

Laughter, Like Water

Enlarge poem

My sister and I spent an afternoon once, in the shower block
of a desert campsite, soaking under the spray,

after a morning in the sun, breathing in the hot dry wind
that whipped our unbound hair about our faces.

Standing barefoot on the rough concrete floor,
gaps in a thatched roof showing blue Kalahari sky,

our laughter flowed with the warm water
as we ran our fingers through the tangles.

Heedless, wasteful, as children often are, we drenched ourselves
in the laughter and the water and the shafts of light

and emerged into the still afternoon, hair and thoughts
combed smooth by the water and the laughter.

I never dreamed then that laughter, like water, could run dry.
Now my fingers catch in the knots, thoughts tangling,

and I dream of that one spring afternoon, long ago,
when the desert flowed with laughter, like water, and light.

Featured Poem:

Lizard & Dad and the Pigeons

Enlarge poem

LIZARD

I am also wearing blue,
little lizard,
though your orange-rimmed spectacles
are more colourful than mine.
I am hiding, just like you
from my hawk-eyed friends
who shriek and laugh
far back from the ledge.
I have climbed down
barefooted, just like you
to where the heat
from the sun-baked rock
blankets the sound
to claw the dry earth
and lose myself in the silence.
We are kindred, you and I,
stretched out
on the edge of the world,
sharing the vertical views
between treetops and sky,
storing time with the sunshine
in our skins.

DAD AND THE PIGEONS

My father wages war
on the birds and the crickets

that make our garden home,
or so my mother tells me;

Each day a new report
of restless nights spent hunting

the sounds of crickets
who are never where their voices are,

and water gun battles with the pigeons
who come seeking shelter.

Perhaps once he was content
to let the sounds sooth the night,

the wild things nestle close.
Now he demands a tidy silence.

Now he stills the singing
with buckets for drowning.

Now he lays spikes on the roof,
as if to barricade even the sky.

How does this featured poem make you feel?

  • Amazement (0)
  • Pride (0)
  • Optimism (0)
  • Anger (0)
  • Delight (0)
  • Inspiration (0)
  • Reflection (0)
  • Captivation (0)
  • Peace (0)
  • Amusement (0)
  • Sorrow (0)
  • Vigour (0)
  • Hope (0)
  • Sadness (0)
  • Fear (0)
  • Jubilation (0)

Laughter, Like Water

Enlarge poem

My sister and I spent an afternoon once, in the shower block
of a desert campsite, soaking under the spray,

after a morning in the sun, breathing in the hot dry wind
that whipped our unbound hair about our faces.

Standing barefoot on the rough concrete floor,
gaps in a thatched roof showing blue Kalahari sky,

our laughter flowed with the warm water
as we ran our fingers through the tangles.

Heedless, wasteful, as children often are, we drenched ourselves
in the laughter and the water and the shafts of light

and emerged into the still afternoon, hair and thoughts
combed smooth by the water and the laughter.

I never dreamed then that laughter, like water, could run dry.
Now my fingers catch in the knots, thoughts tangling,

and I dream of that one spring afternoon, long ago,
when the desert flowed with laughter, like water, and light.

Comments

Your email address will not be published.