(for Dutch poet Joop Bersee)
A kitchen is never dead. It is a living thing. A
Jerusalem. There were no waves. No distant
shoreline. Only a greenness passing through the
climate. Swimmers’ heads cut off from the rest
of their bodies in the school swimming pool,
and I wonder if you still remember me. Skinny
legs. Serious face. Nose stuck in a book. Seriously
curly hair. Books under my arm. Nabokov.
Gillian Slovo. I never promised you a rose garden.
Now you pass through me as if you’re passing
through a reflection. Take your medication.
Make dad breakfast. And then there is this struggle
of loving men who prefer the company of other
men. You’re things that make me happy and
things that make me sad. You’re like a ray of
light, my darling, my sweetheart, my love. I
love you until all my insides are raw, until my spirit
has withered away into nothingness and nausea.
Until the house that I reside in, my ice house,
turns winter into summer. The kitchen sink is
my mother’s wasteland. It is her politics, her flesh,
her prize. She rolls deep in her garden. That’s
her bliss. That’s being honest, and after the rain
she’s Jean Rhys, and during the rain she edits me
away, censors me, declares me Mrs Rochester.
Her hands smell like spaghetti. These same hands
that tear me apart. Ripping me apart until I’m
raw. Raw! And everything after that tastes
metallic. I brush my teeth, but it’s as if I’m doing
laundry or something. I can’t get the stain out.
And there’s a feast of winter in my hair while
I think of Harlem and the African Renaissance.