Gert Strydom

Gold Star - 21,689 Points (03 April 1964 / Johannesburg, South Africa)

At A Utter Lost In My Own Country (In Answer To Kelwyn Sole) - Poem by Gert Strydom

I. Outside on the porch little bells dangle in the wind

Outside on the porch little bells
dangle in the wind
(a new expensive set that you have bought)
that we hear chiming even in our bedroom.

My eyes follow you while you
dress in a bathing suit
to plunge into the neighbour’s pool
and later I climb over the wall to join you.

You slice spinach, feta cheese, along with
mushrooms, onions and tomatoes with quick
chopping movements and everything
goes into a shining frying pan

and on the porch
we watch the setting sun
enjoying our meal
with some glasses of sweet wine

and later while we watch Dr. House
you lie with your head on my chest
and after a while we begin to kiss,
to caress and to undress.

II. Passion sweeps us away

Passion sweeps us away
while only the dogs
and the big yellow moon watches
until spent, we lie against each other

and you tell me
of the difficulty of your childhood days,
of a father who liquor turned
into a kind of thoughtless man

but how he could excel in poetry,
still at times tried to live
in the ways of God
and that you really loved him

and I tell you about growing up
without a father, about how my mother
did her very best to offer us
a great kind of life

about the destruction, the desolation
and the impact of war,
of being a soldier
of killing another human being

about being shell-shocked,
with bullets whistling over your head,
about my friends, comrades
being shot dead

while somewhere else
people are eating out in restaurants,
are visiting movie houses,
are dancing or watching a television show.

III. Outside gardenias are waving against the windows

The noise of the machines outside
almost sound like the echo’s
of our hearts and on the dressing-table
there is a vase with deep red roses

while your body sticks to mine,
I see the grace with which you are breathing
and in your golden eyes there’s a lovely spark
that reminds me how splendid it is

to be young, to know that we are living
and when you later doze off against me
your breath whispers ingrained into me
like a sweet melody
and outside gardenias wave against the windows
in a bushy pergola while I play with a nipple.

IV. I make tea for us

I make tea for us
and you say that only I can make tea like this,
you eat some of my rusks
while our hands are just touching each other’s

and it’s already after nine
that you have returned from the gym
and you turn the teaspoon
around and around

while you look at me with big eyes
and I wonder what you want to tell me,
see your eyes disappearing before mine;
you are tired and want to go and sleep in your house

and early in the morning I get an electronic letter
telling me that our relationship has ended.

V. I know

I know that people
sometimes do things
to get someone back
or to let the self dominate
or just because it’s possible

so as if they are totally free
of each other in a relationship
and everything
just turns around the self and me.

Not apart from the damage
and irreparability
that it leaves
or the great impact
that this destruction brings

as if deeds
do not have consequences
and all the time circle out wider
and yesterday, today and tomorrow
are to infinity the same

and it’s a fact
that the reasons at times
go beyond comprehension
and the answers
sometimes for ever
stay away from you.

VI. Eyes full of water confuse the picture that I keep

Eyes full of water confuse the picture that I keep
when I leave Pretoria on my motorbike,
when I say farewell to you,
at speed cut past cars on the highway

where your auburn hair is now sun-drenched
but destiny throws out its dice,
while I am already missing you
and I have got to jump to where it throws my life

and the black road twists like a snake,
still the sun is hot in a cobalt blue sky,
while the motorbike takes my full attention
and I see a swarm of birds flying up high;

part of my life buzzes past with the wheels,
while you stay behind.

VII. I am already sleeping when you phone

I am already sleeping when you phone
(as if I have left you by my own choice)
you tell me about your loneliness,
say that you are missing me a lot,

that you are alone and do not want to affront me
and it’s as if the walls are folding in on you,
but the conversation is really saying
that you now see things in a different light

and I realize that you are scared and your voice becomes thin,
is full of uncertainties and you want to know if I have got someone else,
in the distance over the phone I hear lightning bashing down,
the cat comes in through the window and climbs on the sideboard,

I see that the big old clock pointing to after eleven
and I put the telephone down and wonder why you are phoning?

VIII. I lost you suddenly

I lost you suddenly
when I was again without a contracted job
and this crisis (of being without work)
happens over and over again

and every time I have got to start from scratch,
while I am looking in confusion in the fog of live
that folds around me for meaning,
to something new to encourage me.

You say that you also now at times
listen to Handel’s water music
and although it is beautiful, there is pain for me in it,
everything between us feels so final and settled,
it is as if your voice has stopped whispering in the evening wind
and it is as if that music starts my sadness.

IX. Near Shoprite

In the parking aria near to Shoprite
in a remote corner three white people are sitting
with plastic bags, blankets,
unshaved, with uncombed hair,
two men and a woman
and the leader of the little group
turns tobacco from cigarette stubs
that they have picked up
into an old glass jar.

Later they make cigarettes
from a old telephone guide and late afternoon,
sometimes at sundown,
this is their gathering place
and I see him drawing a match
against the sole of his worn leather shoe,
later they ask at DJ’s
if the black café owner has some leftovers
that he would throw away anyway.

They ask me for cigarettes
and I cannot help them
as I do not smoke,
I do not even have enough money on me
to buy a bread for them
of maybe a litre of milk,
I see how they try and make sheltering
from boxes for the night
and wonder where they hide
against the winter chill,
about what they do when it rains?

I long to have a conversation with you
and get an electronic mail
at the Internet café and you say

that you have got a lot of time,
have thought about the problems
that you find
in your own personality

and I wonder about your relationship
with your new friend,
who is probably working in Nelspruit,
but it’s not my concern.

X. Away I am drawn from your words

Away I am drawn from your words,
by deeds that I cannot make undone
as if the truth is taken
away by the torment flowing from
the words you are telling,
a tempest now enkindled
in your heart.

I did not choose to part
but are like a sawn off tree
falling where destiny demands,
not where my desire wants,
grasping ever grasping
for the way that life used to be,
trying to have you close to me.

XI. How sad it is

How sad it is when fog the whole morning
hangs over this autumn,
and now I wonder where did I fit into your life
or were we just for moments, caught in each other?

Today I wonder about you
who with golden eyes could shine over my whole world,
see a couple of rainbows
where light comes down through the clouds,

and now after almost a year
I get an answer on my comment at your “ordinary woman”
and I am sorry that my words then did not spare you
and now wonder about the meaning of your words

where your write: this poem is for you
wishing me well and I remember our times together.

XII. Is it you or I?
How did I have to know
that love
carries no meaning to you
and what was between us
you viewed as a prison

as if I am not even
a little bit in the picture
and the Lord God
does not behold everything,

still I wonder
who in the end
will suffer the most
is it you or I?

XIII. What is left to say?

What is left to say
that compulsively I wanted to get on my motorbike,
that today I wanted to love you like yesterday,
wanted to ride all the way to you, past the distant horizon?

That when dusk came I was wondering
if you are missing me,
that I was astounded by the beauty of the setting sun
and I wonder if the clouds are just as pretty, at the place where you are?

What is left to say
when I am still wondering where the end between us started,
wonder about opportunities left in this country,
and now I am a stranger to you whom I once loved?

Maybe He had driven us apart,
or maybe you had mutated away?

[Reference: Uttara by Kelwyn Sole.]

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, April 28, 2011

Poem Edited: Tuesday, May 10, 2011

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