Three poems by Joop Bersee

Hiraeth – Three poems for my mother 1923 – 2012

Hiraeth /hɪəraɪ̯θ/ is a Welsh word that has no direct English
translation. However, the University of Wales, Lampeter,
attempts to define it as homesickness tinged with grief or
sadness over the lost or departed.


Mine, hers?

My mother is her hands.
She sits like Buddha and
plays with a few fingers,
looking at them. First

there were cobwebs
between her old fingers.
Now they are gone;
slowly she wakes up

inside me and starts to
open the cupboards and
becomes young again
as she lives between the

hairs of my eyelashes,
bending, what do I see,
or what does she see
through my eyes, hers?



Yes well we are distant now,
the past like a darkening wall
between us, an illness. I
touch the bricks with my fingers,
break my nails as I try to
scratch the cement, grey, bitter,
can’t focus any longer.

Her images are coming
out of my chest, projected
on the wall like good old slides,
the images seem to be soft,
soft toys, a cushion with
her photo on it. A star.


Thank You

Yes she died, dead,
when I put her ashes,
her dust, true kiss,
into the ground,

No matter,
because a mouse
dies and who
are we, writers,

painters, police man,
baker, pizza maker?
They put ashes into our hands.
Thank you.

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Posted in Poetry
Myesha Jenkins – Tribute

Botsotso would like to pay homage to Myesha Jenkins, the poet and promoter of poetry who died on Saturday, 05 September 2020. Myesha was a founder member of Feelah Sistah, the all-woman poetry group that in its time made such an impact. Thereafter, she was indefatigable in organising and strengthening poetry platforms on radio and for live performance/readings. Myesha’s work was included in two Botsotso productions – the anthology Isis X and the recording Roots and Branches. Her spirit as a politically conscious, jazz-loving artist lives on and is well expressed in her seminal poem Autobiography which was included in both these projects.

Click here to read Autobiography, a poem by Myesha Jenkins.

A Call for Submissions: Johannesburg in Poetry