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Two poems by Frank Meintjies

The storm, Krotoa’s ally

I am the storm, I am the
sea’s reflection, it’s other self
I watch as (in these rough
natal days) this little child is swept up
as dust with a broom
trod on, as the mud & grass
at your fort

This is krotoa’s world
why is it so streaked with shadows
why is it so laden with cracked leaves,
exploding patterns, ripples of shadows
in the golden light

on many nights I wash up
mighty waves against your shores
seeking to agitate your dreams
trying to seed a new song &
a new warmth in your veins

this child who can interpret my moods
who reads the plants
deciphers the grunts and glares of men –
in your grinding words & downward gaze
are you trying to break our spirit?

now what is left?

the futility of broken bracelets; of
khoi clothes torn off her
and replaced with garments of
the ‘company’

and what will you learn?

I, the tempest; the swirling belly
of the cloud
I churn your dreams
when you puff up, cramp your gut
I rouse long buried truth from embers
I burn a light though your bones

even down the ages

This hand

these fingers broken in many parts –
knuckled, buckled
as i try to give
a segment
to so much that needs so much
to plug gaps, broken fences
small cracks in dreams

this hand broken (or sprained
temporarily lame or momentarily inflamed)
by pen, by welding machine, by hammer or
drenched in turpentine
as i sought for bread
to fill this hollow, this basic need
hardened & coarsened
by these times, these truths

this black hand —once no clasping with white
now: shaking in peace
& what of all that’s been lost
in the fire
what of singed hair, smoke-stained skin,
streaked eyes

we turn those into memories
that sit snugly or roughly
in a patterned frame