Trisha, Karen, Karen and Linda

Rest at ease and look with faith.
Ropes of reason bind me
in a well of unobservance

seeing escape, but not the path.
Etherial wings floating –
catch my soul with a butterfly net.

Seeing faces, not desires:
pulsating orb, a scarlet bump,
a promise in a word unspoken.

Smiling widely, I show the sun my face,
guillotine sense from nonsense:
I am the queen of the day.

Karen Lambrecht

En route

She’s always awake before everyone else. Early when there is nothing to distract her from the adventures in her head. No witch in the classroom threatening again and again – till her limbs freeze with fear – to call the police, send them all to jail for the night. For talking. No merciless teasing because she speaks English and her parents don’t go to church. She gathers her school clothes, tiptoes down the passage to the lounge with its enormous picture window overlooking the sloping veld and the vast ocean. Carefully she arranges her regulation red panties, dress, socks, shoes, arms and legs in a circle around herself. She picks up each item, feels it slide over her skin as she dresses. 

‘Bye Mom,’ she calls out to the slippered, dressing-gowned woman squeezing orange juice in the kitchen.

‘You’re up so early again my darling. Maybe we should try putting you to bed later. Got your lunch? Well, have a good day then …’

The sun is still struggling up from under the cloudy covers and the magical pink and orange light of dawn makes the houses down the road look softer, almost pretty. Her bag on her back, she wanders, stretching time, bending down to look at the succulent weed with its fresh green leaves and silvery hairs against the red clay earth, ants scurrying busily around it.

She hums a tune, talks to herself. The first sign of madness says the library lady who smells of cigarettes and hairspray. ‘That’s okay, because she can’t hear me now.’

The main gate of the school comes into view, but that’s not where she’s heading. Not yet. Just before the imposing row of gum trees which marks the school boundary lies an undeveloped plot of land, an empty patch of veld and she can just make out the tentative track which meanders diagonally across, beckoning. She takes a couple of steps, the earth responds and the spiny bushes scratch her skinny legs. She stops, waits. She wants desperately to witness once again the miracle of the moment before the harsh spotlight of day proves to her she’s been wrong all along to think there could be anything beautiful about these tenacious little bushes with their stunted branches and steely, grey-green leaves.

She takes a few more steps. The veld stretches all around her now. There’s a plovers’ nest nearby and soon the frantic parents will fly up and chase her away swooping down low over her head, filling the air with their siren-like wailing. ‘You’re-meant to-be at-school little-girl!’ And she’ll force herself to stay calm, comforting them. She means them no harm, please! Let her share with them for a brief moment a glimpse of the way the world was meant to be. Please. Because soon she has to enter those walls and learn. Learn to lock herself away.

Karen Lambrecht

Sotto voce

She agonised about being acceptable, about seeing herself
through what she thought were the eyes of others, and then
failing, always failing! Don’t

stand up – it is so inconvenient,
so conspicuous when the rest of them are sitting
down. Ignore that angry little voice that wants to shout out about

injustices like when Beatrice, smiling, slapped her
through the face. She never told, because
she’d long since discovered that somehow she would

get the blame anyhow. For the sake of convenience.
For the sake of convenience she disengaged, until
years down the line and miles off the track she traced her way
 
back, but found that her footprints had become hidden
by layer upon layer of sediment and she needed a pickaxe
to uncover them. Or was it just a tiny chisel

like a small voice, saying actually, inconveniently, I’d rather
not? Is that what you are trying to say to me and in the chaos
I am finding it so fucking hard to hear amid the hurt,

the hate,the humiliation? So I fight the urge
to plug my ears, and for the sake of inconvenience,
listen

for your voice.

Karen Lambrecht

Touching the earth

I am of the earth and beyond,
dancing alive in the veld
digging the earth, discovering its treasures,
happy content and at peace.

Dancing alive in the veld,
laughing at the loudness of life,
I am happy content and at peace.
In loving enfoldment

laughing at the loudness of life.
The buried bones of our mothers
lie in loving enfoldment
like tentative children.

The buried bones of our mothers
our treasures,
like tentative children,
are of the earth and beyond.

Karen Lambrecht

On survival

With fire, says the primal law, you’re bound to survive
in a warm and protective life-giving womb.
When you’re cold to the core and drawn by desire,
with fire, says the primal law, you’re bound to survive.
Crackling flames jostle for space,
then calmly they sway and hypnotise,
until dying away – and unless you move on,
you’ll be standing alone in the cold and the gloom…
With fire, says the primal law, you’re bound to survive
in a warm and protective life-giving womb.

Karen Lambrecht

Grateful lament

Trapped in a well
where life was calm, predictable and undisturbed,
I went unnoticed beneath the murky surface,
seeing the world through closed lids.
Then piercing my consciousness
like a screaming siren
you, Beloved, turned away when I needed you most!
Angry and bitter like subterranean water,
I escaped into crevasses,
squeezing through spaces so small I had to leave my body behind.
There, not knowing left from right, up from down,
I knew that life had taught me to forget.
And breathing once more, like tiny waves rising and falling and rippling outwards,
I thanked you for your failure.

(100 words)