Five poems by Antjie Krog

Summer poems for the beloveds



man with rampant tongue

hold me

and hear my heart howl with lust

flaying my skirt to the thigh

as I ride out on your voice


who holds me as if embracing womb

I am with young by you

my abdomen lows its fertility

in this festive midsummer light

our pelvic bones snap like horns

your buttocks knuckle white

you smear me out

man massive man

around whom I cave in

who groans for god and beast in my =0Bthroat

when I come to my senses

from your cheek I see

I bit blood


the earth is unfinished

and when the wind starts

the child stands in Kloof Street with his schoolbag

child of mine! I call to his back

there where my heart is tightest

as always

I am elsewhere

I think him into almonds

and arms full of pulled-up light

I trace his whispers in my matrix of blood

shyly the child shoots across the street

the wind takes his orthodontic drool

it’s me

your mother

but his eyes are on the brink of leaving me

the earth lies unfinished

the wind splinters from him the last that is child

and I tighten about him

past all guilt past all neglect

I love him


way beyond heart


the bay shines milk

sailboats sown like duwweltjies

behind waxpaper the mountain gnashes December blue


come day! come mountain

bloused in blue

come make me yours

gather me against yourself

lightsoft bundles

of bluebreast sky

fathoms and fathoms thereof


(christmas 1993)

after the rains

the veld gives herself like a slut to the green

of bare plains there is suddenly nothing of

everything sprees everything revels green

among thorn trees and braggart tassels

the karee heaves a vastrap in wild olive steams

and for christmas the katbos tiptoes small red berries

wait, oh wait

every afternoon the gingergreen kuil is filled out

by a boon of clouds in — is it hailwhite?

the excess of the veld so unimpaired

so sudden

so drenched with cicada sound

so lavishly festive

and fraught with green

it attests to a gross insensitivity about us

us to whom the veld belongs

belied and belittled we feel

we to whom the veld belongs

eroded bewildered assaulted we feel

we to whom the veld belongs

this perhaps our last together

like this

Translated from the Afrikaans by the poet

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