Christine Coates

Surprised by love     


I’ve learned to love the sunrise – I used to sleep
long into the morning –
growing pains, childhood seemed so hard
to get up for school, to study early for exams
the frost still white on the lawn
the milk cart delivering milk and orange juice –
vitamin C in icy winter, the Western Transvaal
so cold the water froze – long icicles
from the garden tap, the bedroom windows all misted up –
I could blow a hole into it to see outside –
the dog’s paw marks as they tracked over the grass
his yellow piss a steaming puddle near the willow tree.
I’ve learned to love the night –
dark velvet sky, stars like holes punched into a blanket –
although some nights were frightening when my parents fought
their battles at the other end of the house.
I woke and held my breath – the shouting subsided
and then I heard the sound of my mother
feeling her way along the dark passage –
her hand dragging the wall. I still hear that sound some nights –
even though it’s over forty years ago.
I’ve learned to love the ocean – yet I lived
a thousand miles away and I only saw it once
a year – a seaside holiday in the Eastern Cape
and like an English child I had a net and a sunbonnet
and ate rock candy. I think I married
my husband because he lived by the ocean
and now we walk on the beach
every day – whales blow. We take our dogs
to Sunrise beach  sometimes at sunset.
The moon rises there too –
I never knew I loved sunrise.


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