Yesterday, after 6 weeks away, I was catching up with ABBA and discovered your poems. Coincidently I’d written Like Smoke into the Air in the early hours of the plane journey home.
Like Smoke into the Air
Up the steps to the harbour wall fish scales trail.
Gills and gut clot.
They stand – a small group – four figures against a steely sky.
Two daughters, two granddaughters and now I
the youngest sister walking the long aisle
to where the port light guards the swell,
clutching a scarf that reflects the sky.
They’ve brought flowers. Well chosen.
Crimson, fuchsia, purple,
set off against sunflowers
made iridescent by the filtered light.
The box is simple. Plain cardboard.
The packet plastic.
Humble containers for so fragile a mix.
We dip our fingers. Lightly at first.
As if in holy water, or soft palm ash to daub a forehead.
But this is dry.
We take fistfuls.
Our fingers grow familiar with the touch.
Cast it like smoke into the air
where it glides and is taken on the breeze.
There is no rhythm. No plan.
Flowers fall where they fall.
Ash drifts. Dissolves. Disappears.
The sea, liquid pewter, rises to receive.
A vast sighing swell that dips and lifts and breathes.
My own breath dips.
The flowers are borne Millais-like.
A raft. A bier.
At the port light they slow
as if to gather strength,
then slipstream a silver current
to trail across the bay.
Two oyster-catchers salute,
sharp against the sky.
And we… two daughters, two granddaughters and I…
walk back along the wall.
Hands darkened. Nails stained. Whorls ingrained.
Dianne Hofmeyr 10.02. 2010