Art and Literature for Africa and the World

Destiny News

Destiny News

for Bob Fox (1943-2005)

 

When someone knocks

on your cranium in a dream

you should open your eyes

and pay them attention.

Like taking a forkful

of a moist slice

of coconut cake after

the server at Denny’s

plops it wobbly on the table.

So, hello again, Bob,

your moustache dense like

a warm bowl of morning

oatmeal and your breath

burned into the skin

of your CDs.  The idea

of your leaving

still tucked away

in my glove box,

the helium

in your tutelage

made us all rise.

You were no

Yiddish journalist but

Meigs County cropper who

detested the stuffiness

of gentleman farmer

and shaped subway

fables even past

the ninth inning.

Now it’s elsewhere

stirred by a mystic

dream board—

so hello, middle-

of-the-night visitor.

You’re still strongly

in deed, fresh

as the news, traveler

on destiny’s meridian.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rikki Santer’s work has appeared in various publications including Ms. Magazine, Poetry East, Slab, Slipstream, [PANK], Crab Orchard Review, RHINO, Grimm, Hotel Amerika and The Main Street Rag. Her work has received many honors including six Pushcart and three Ohioana book award nominations as well as a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Her tenth collection, How to Board a Moving Ship, has just been released by Lily Poetry Review Books. 

Stephanie Liebetrau lives and works in Port Elizabeth/ Gqeberha. She completed a Diploma in Graphic Design at Cape Technikon. Her evocative oil paintings & collages fuse South African women with natural elements to create hybrids that diffuse the boundary between the real and recreated. She explores themes such as Eco-Feminism and remains fascinated by the “fragile hieroglyphics” in nature’s design. Her work is often ekphrastic, inspired by poetry, scripture and sacred texts.

 

Greenmarket Square, Saturday Morning

Greenmarket Square, Saturday Morning

Hi  am Andile

I aM ashamed

but   Hungry

Pleaz

Help

God

BLessed

 

I’s not asking for money just ten rand for a stukkie brood or a hot chocolate.

Ek vra mos. I’m not going to rob you, I’m only asking.

Why does everybody say no today?

Dit lyk my julle mense het jou ubuntu by die huis vergeet vanoggend.

Even God doesn’t want to buy kak for me today.

Dis mos maar net so.

Hey CASH FOR GOLD lady, you are the queen of my world.

 

 

 

 

Stephen Devereux is a professor at the Institute for Social Development, University of the Western Cape, where he recently completed a MA in Creative Writing. One of his poems won third prize in the National Poetry Competition, 2020.

Born 1976 in Durban, South Africa, Tanisha Bhana is an interdisciplinary artist who also practices as a financial attorney. Through her use of photographic montage, she composes a new visual narrative with layers of charged images. She has participated in numerous collaborative projects, most notably the display of works with poet and activist, Dr Rama Mani, for the performance-dialogue on “War, Women and the Human Spirit”, at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, Canada, in June 2014. She has been awarded several awards including the New and Multi-media and Photography Award by the Thami Mnyele Foundation in 2013. She regularly participates in group exhibitions locally and internationally.

 

The Middle Field

The Middle Field

Through the steady hiss of traffic rolling through standing water, I hear a voice speak at the other end of the line. It is my mother’s care home. I am in my garden, raindrops dance and bounce on the tiled roof. There is a sign on the pebble-dashed wall of the house.  It reads: Achadh Meadhanach.

‘She says she’s expecting visitors today. I thought maybe it’s you that’s coming?’

I tell her, ‘No, not today – I’m on my way somewhere, actually.’

‘She says today is “bye-ram”; do you know what that means? She seems upset no one is here.’

Bayram,’ I say. ‘It’s Turkish for festival. She means Eid.’

‘It doesn’t say she’s Muslim, here on the system,’ the voice says.

‘Well, she celebrated it where she grew up, in Turkey, but then she met my dad, an agnostic Scot. She switched to Christmas.’

Behind the garden gate, by a bridge humped over a swollen river, a traffic light flashes from amber to green. I see a woman with a pram at the crossing, strands of wet hair sleek across her cheek, skin under her eyes dark with fatigue.  I tell the voice that I’ll visit briefly. She sounds relieved. The voice then says, ‘She sometimes forgets English or drops into Turkish without realising. It happens with her illness; sometimes the second language gets forgotten. She might eventually revert to her mother tongue.’

I sit, facing my mother. She has a shimmering, violet powder on her eyelids, and a chiffon scarf which delicately shifts about her shoulders when she moves. She is thin, eyes sharp.

Merhaba,’ she says.

‘Hello,’ I reply.

Mutlu bayramlar,’ she says, lifting her veined hand in greeting. ‘I can tell you’re Turkish.’

‘Happy bayram to you, too,’ I say. ‘Yes, I’m half Turkish. Though I don’t speak the language. I’m sorry.’

‘What do you do?’ she asks.

I tell her I’m a lawyer. A woman with a yellow apron comes over and pours us black tea. She smiles at my mother.

My mother ignores her and says, ‘Ben avukatım. I am a lawyer too.’

Casting a sidelong glance at the aproned woman, she continues, ‘It’s good to finally meet someone here of my own class in society. You know, there are some here who sold their homes to pay for care. There are others who get the very same care for free, from the state, because they have nothing!’

I sip the tea, which is steaming and bitter. She says, ‘When my brother was at university in the 60s, in İstanbul, he was always in trouble for being a communist. He protested, plastered posters all over Galata, fighting for the working class. He was a good boy, evet, evet, helping the disadvantaged. We are lucky, being lawyers. Secure. We can hold our heads high.’

I remember once watching her cry. When she moved to the UK her qualifications were worth nothing. Her degree certificates, enclosed in plastic wallets, lay limp across her raw palms. I can’t tell her that she spent years cleaning, after my father left her, and that she doesn’t pay for her care here either. I do.

She scowls at the greenery outside the window, Scottish firs with branches waving in the wind. In her mind, her life here is now unlived, like a touching book once read is shelved, and forgotten. Scotland became her home, its happy memories scrubbed away with the bad. To her, I am just a dream figure. A doctor told me the heart never forgets a child. If true, hers guards the memory of me like a jealous secret.

I remove a Turkish dessert from its wrapping. Strings of golden pastry, straw-like, saturated in syrup and covered with crushed pistachio. ‘Kadayıf,’ she says. ‘My sister-in-law made the most güzel kadayıf one bayram.’

‘It was good kadayıf,’ I say.

We eat it together, washing away its sweetness with lukewarm tea. When I was five, my mother took me to Eastern Turkey to visit family, during bayram. I sat on her lap in the shared dolmuş taxi. My cousins and I wore new clothes, the neighbours gave us treats and toys. My father brought a crumbling Scottish sweet, called tablet. Each square was wrapped with a violet bow. After dinner, we ate kadayıf. My cousins then asked me to choose a favourite, tablet or kadayıf; ‘Taaah-blet veya kadayıf?’ I loved them both, but I chose one. Another night, I would have chosen the other. I watch my mother savour the dessert now. We both remember her sister-in-law serving it. It is a shared memory, yet she does not see me in it. She is steeped in love she cannot taste. Our eyes meet, and she smiles.

I arrive home. The night sky is thick with cloud and I am held in the cool, featureless darkness. The engine is off, the cold slowly seeping into the car. I look at the sign on the house: Achadh Meadhanach. It means ‘the Middle Field’ in Gaelic, which is what the land once was, sandwiched between two estates, before all of it was sold to developers. There is a river that runs through the land, weaving it together. As it flows, the river takes with it pebbles, dirt, drips and trickles from streams, churning, breaking up and remoulding, making all part of itself. This river has a name, an identity, as it is always the same, and yet its rushing water is renewed and different from one moment to the next.

‘What’s brought me to this country, in particular?’ my mother had asked, looking out at the green, alien landscape.

‘Love,’ I said.

‘Am I visiting?’

Evet,’ I replied. ‘We’re both winding our way through.’

 

 

 

 

Ayla Douglas is a Scottish-Turkish writer. She is published in Product and No Parties magazines. In 2021 she was selected by Extra Teeth magazine for a writing mentorship and shortlisted by the Glasgow Women’s Library for their Bold Types creative writing competition.

Annette du Plessis is a South African artist who works in many different media, including embroidery. She has been awarded an FNB Craft Vita Award and a Certificate of Excellence from the Eastern Cape Department of Arts and Culture. She has been involved in several community art projects, serving some of the poorest communities in South Africa. Her work is in many private and public collections. Read more about her creations here: https://annetteduplessisembroideryart.wordpress.com/

error: Content is protected !!