Three poems by Dominique Botha, from Donkerberg/Bloodwood

The JRB presents new poetry from Donkerberg/Bloodwood, a bilingual anthology by the award-winning writer Dominique Botha, published by Dwarsrivier.

everything is pollen even the bitter flowers

my eyes are white doves
travelling back
to the fine and mild kingdom
on your birthday
the first of january
where the sun
with its yellow beak
strung to the blue
flies the highest
of all the birds of heaven
and clouds pile up
like shorn fleece
over a sluice of crops

I want to close my eyes
in the evergreen olive
rooted in your peace
where cosmos
is the mud that sings
between your fingers
plucked to the last tier
in the naked stamp
of another year

your throat full of roses

come through the gate
with mother-of-pearl doves in your arms
your throat full of roses
follow the small southern cross
that aligns on my thigh
like seaweed surfaces longingly
to kiss the sun

I am waiting for you
arums in the shy marsh
of love grass
a haven curdled
in ribbons and cinnamon

my mouth sticks and feathers
wanting to break open on yours
like fever breaks
in dovecots spiralling
through suburban afternoons

my mother’s son

you are now a plain of red grass
in the hinterland
where late afternoons graze on you

in summer when rainclouds fatten

in winter when the thorn trees
weave a wreath out of ash for ma
to lay at your dreams while she sleeps

when the shed of her heart stands open

and inhales swallows
and exhales swallows

white like snow from the distant provinces of grief
swift like a drowning

  • Dominique Botha grew up on a farm in the Free State and immortalised her childhood years in her debut novel False River. Published by Umuzi in 2013, False River was awarded the Eugène Marais Prize conferred by the South African Academy for Science and Arts, the Jan Rabie-Rapport Prize and the University of Johannesburg Debut Prize for both English Literature and Afrikaans Literature.

    False River was translated into French by Georges Lory for Actes Sud and appeared as Rivière fantôme.

    Dominique lives in the Dwarsriver valley in the Boland with her husband and four children. She writes in both English and Afrikaans, translates and contributes to various publications.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.Required fields are marked *