Unfinished melody


Pure as first snow on a raven’s breast

That’s the way I can explain it best

My intention, my intentions

I hate it’s even worth a mention

 

You’ve a quiver filled with arrows boy

And they used to give me so much joy

In the beginning, at the start

They squirted honey from my heart.

 

 

 

 

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Unrequited (A song for the boy wonder)


There’s so much of me that you’ll never know

Pieces of me I’ll never show

Your casual violence and intensity

All of our disparities

Break me.

 

When loneliness with her cold embrace

Plants frozen kisses on your face

Oh I long to light a fire in your heart

And breathe you in from end to start

 

But I’ll wait.

Patiently

For someone more like me…

 

Imagine…

My complete surprise

Behind your shades

Those liquid eyes

Your fingers trembled

When our hands they touched

And I knew

I want you so very much

But these games we play

 

This go, no stay

The cruel about face

After the lushest embrace

Makes me lonely

 

For someone

who wants me…

Soul, mind and body

Someone more like me.

 

I’ll never be

What you think

You need from me

Remain unrequited

baby.

Ground control to major T…


I certainly know how to make life interesting, don’t I? Chinese curse interesting times, I mean. Lordy! I sometimes wonder how much this ticker I so profess to shoot from in my philosophy will bear until I too, like my mother – check out on a random Sunday afternoon because of sheer heartbreak.

“Men are evil” the English professor was telling me in his car on New Year’s Day. “Until you feminists learn to operate from that premise, you’ll always make yourselves vulnerable and suffer the consequences of this unfortunate truth”. I answered that this is true because of the patriarchy we exist under. The burden of responsibility for acts of evil are transfered to the survivor, as the perpetrator isn’t expected to be held accountable. Which is wise and true. But not useful. Men dump their anger in us. I must find a link to that article and learn how to link shit in a blog. I must learn how to write for profit too. Especially since my being is carrying around the heaviness of so many tales untold, dear reader.

 

And it’s a new year. For Isabel Allende, January the 8th is an auspicious date to start writing. I may as well make mine January the 4th.  Today the first man I ever loved is 40. He is a story. Another story is ‘Voyeur’ or why I hate my father. Another one is ‘Snuff’, about that time Tanya Flowerday was tortured and raped in my mother’s house and my sister’s friend finally killed her and dumped her in Darrenwood – in a blanket my mother made with her hands. The heaviness of it all, the unshakable unshackable burden. I want it out of my system and thousands in foreign currency into my bank account. I want to stop living like my reality and my dreams are as remote as ground control to major Tom. Oh and I want to live. I want to survive the dog days and brag like Madonna did that I made it, the ultimate rebellion was my longevity.

It’s bloody well time too. It’s my time. My time to stop worrying who will knock on the door and remove my children from my care. Time to live in the home of my choice, eating what I feel is ethical and sound and a fucking decadent feast. A home adorned as I’m adorned in what is of my taste. My wonderfully cultivated eclectic thrifty taste, thank you very much.

 

I am filled with gratitude. Filled with thank yous. And yous and yous, as my neighbour likes to refer to others.

Ok I digressed purposefully. The title of this post relates directly to this boy wonder I fancy. I always want to blab here about the love interest. My mostly companion refers to the men in her life as welcome distractions and gentlemen callers. I love that. I love you, L. Tennessee Williams for king.

I want to talk about why I can’t just have a normal relationship! Why must this one be half my age? I guess when you’re forty and single the cougar thing ought to make sense, womxn come into our sexual peak and young men are virile. And he is adorable. But this is not based on any reality I can seek out. I’m such a mess.

 

Jesus do I have baggage. Four years after giving birth, NOW my tummy muscles separate. It’s like something out of that show ‘The spa of embarrassing illnesses.’ NOW I suffer prolapse. Not just pelvic but prolapsed haemorrhoids, for crying in the fuckit bucket! And this mess comes with pooper surgery I cannot afford. Jesus. NOW this happens. Now my nipples sink away at the top. My perfect breasts! Hell no.  Thanks ex for letting me move alone after you had me evicted from our home. Thanks. All that heavy lifting broke my girly bits and my bum. Interesting times, y’all. Interesting times.

 

But I’m thankful. I’m thankful even though my brother and my son threaten suicide in their dark hours. I’m thankful that I’m not living in that godforsaken little town, miles from nowhere anymore. Thanks for freezing my accounts, stealing my kids for 5 days and giving me 18 days notice to find accommodation on 12 July 2016 exo. Fuck you. Shame, there are fires there at the moment. I’m thankful L and I are starting something wonderful this year, uncertain and expensive as this business venture is.

 

Even though my fingerprints got flagged for a DUI from 11 years ago (I don’t have a criminal record, just some random, lingering record of being fingerprinted) and I lost the only job I’ve been able to find in 6 months single, I’m thankful. Even though a random man sexually assaulted me at a friend’s house a couple of months ago and I had to live with the victim shaming from people who profess to love me, take ARVs and get so skinny. I’m thankful. Even though I get threatened with eviction from the only home I could run away to, I’m thankful. Even though my children fight constantly, my daughter has become proficient in the F word, I’m thankful. And it tickles me tremendously that a boy with a foot fetish is calling me Goddess.

 

Now I just need to get rich. Happy new year.

 

 

About that time I almost started something devious with a puritanical prick.


Dearest…I hope your values are hot bedfellows. And I am very relieved I never did give you those panties you asked for, after all…imagine asking for them back! Imagine you saying you’ll just chuck them out and me not believing that for a single second. It makes me cringe.

 

This heart of mine

A river runs through it

Runs deep.

And this hill I climb

It’s lead heavy, treacherous

Steep.

 

If I could run to you

I would run.

You felt like home to me

When I’m undone.

I can’t stop obsessing over last night

You a cold gentle murmur

Me a fire-breathing fright.

It’s all a jumble in my head

All of your questions

All the stupid things I said and said.

 

You see my dear

I fear you came from thin air

And to that you’ll disappear.

I must wonder do you feel me

toxic obnoxious self-centered

Intrepidly vapid?

 

But here comes the hunter’s moon

And we both know that enchanted yellow ball means

Pretty soon…

 

This spell will be broken

And nothing unspoken

Granted another thought.

You’ll be back to your old familiar

Anew

I’ll be distraught.

 

Better to have loved and lost they say

Y yo se perder (volver, volver, volver….)*

Better to never love a man again say I

Menos mal **to not care.

 

Here I go dancing into my personal

earthy paradise

A burlesque artist, dusty poetatrix

Dive-bar chanteuse

freedom’s possibilities are endless.

 

And I do so love being free…

 

Yet already I yearn for the you

Come condensed a tiny time frame of my life

with magical universes

of delicious possibilities.

 

 

*Yo se perder – Spanish for ‘I know how to lose/I’m a good loser’. From the Song ‘Volver, volver, volver’ (Return)

**Menos mal – Spanish for ‘less bad’ or a lesser evil, if you will. These things always get lost – or diluted – during translation, alas.

 

 

 

 

Why the #normalisebreastfeeding hating needs to stop. (And why we need selfies)


Dear Mom Diaries,

A couple of days ago you wrote a blog post stating your issues with the global #NormaliseBreastfeeding/#normalise/#normalizebreastfeeding movement and the breastfeeding selfies or #brelfies mothers share online.

(Here’s the link, readers):

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwi72YH0-dbMAhVFcT4KHWfUD8AQFggbMAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.themomdiaries.co.za%2F2016%2F05%2F11%2Fwhy-i-think-the-normalisebreastfeeding-war-needs-to-stop-and-the-selfies%2F&usg=AFQjCNHRN5609DrO_psEtVVKTFgFAh8rlw&sig2=0uNNlPwYpOwVFu4_aFWWow

 

As the founder member and co-Director of South Africa’s first civil society organisation (Normalise Breastfeeding SA or NBSA) exclusively tackling the issue of public breastfeeding becoming normal once again, I’d like to help you understand what the dangers are of writing such a misleading blogpost…

Did you know that South Africa has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world? The World Health Organization’s stats say that only 7.4% of South African babies are breastfed.

In the commentary after your blog, Public Nutritionist Chantell Witten unpacked for you some of the reasons our breastfeeding rates are so low and commentator Andrea B helped you understand the place in those rates occupied by parents who are put off breastfeeding because of the constant stigmatisation in public and at work. Add to that the attractive marketing of formula as a lifestyle choice in areas where there isn’t even clean water, nevermind money for new teats, and people so desperately poor that they feed infants watered down pap*… In a country such as ours, dear Mom Diaries, where children die every day of preventable diseases – breastfeeding is a life saving intervention. So as the Lancet Group’s medical booklet says…we have a duty to  protect, promote and support breastfeeding…because it saves lives.

I can’t comment on the relative privilege one must enjoy when you have never ever come across breastfeeding harassment in public. So I’ll unpack some of the incidents shared with us in the short year our movement has been around…

A KZN mom is waiting for a taxi. She is breastfeeding her baby. The security guard manhandles her out of the mall…

A young mum in Pretoria is shopping meds for her sick baby. He screams for the boob and she’s told in no uncertain terms there is NOWHERE in that store for her to feed her child. She’s followed by the male manager to make sure she pays heed. At the same group of stores…the in-house clinic nurse tells a mom to go breastfeed her baby in the toilet.

A Cape Town mom called Tasneem Botha is frog marched out of a popular retailer for breastfeeding her baby. She is jeered at by staff while she sits on a bench to try and calm down her child. Look I could sit here all day, but let’s move on. Oh by the way, Mom Diaries, NBSA has done some breastfeeding shoots for World Breastfeeding Week last year and we had a nurse-in at the shop mentioned here after Tasneem’s ordeal. It was very peaceful, serene. And uninhibited, covered, semi-covered moms all together basked in that lovely love of feeding a baby. We’ve never marched anywhere yet, either.

Do you know what patriarchy means, dear Mom Diaries? I’d like to suggest you read especially what bell hooks, the feminist author, has to say.

I’m asking if you understand patriarchy because in a patriarchal society people think they have the right to police a womxn’s body. Yes, womxn with an ‘x’ to make allowance for the fact that we don’t come from man, they come from us.

Anyway, this blog post of you starts off policing and judging of womxn’s rights to breastfeed as they see fit. This is very much a product of a patriarchal society such as the one we live in…also the sexualisation of the breast, as Andrea B commented, is a patriarchal construct. I see you have a problem with grasping this fact so that’s why I’m on and on about patriarchy. Even down to the comments section you want to defend your POV that a breast ought to be concealed in public.

As you stated, we live in a diverse cultural soicety. I can’t help but think of my friend Sizile who started the #AnywhereAnytime movement on Twitter. In her culture unapologetically uninhibited breastfeeding is the norm.  A doctor at Netcare in Rustenburg asked her to breastfeed her child behind a curtain and when Sizile questioned her request…she was told it’s just not ‘done’ in ‘our (Western) culture’. Sizile kept feeding her child. We as whites would do well to remember we’re not living in her majesty’s territories anymore but in Africa.

Culture aside, actually it is none of mine or your or anybody’s business how much boob womxn want to bare in public. Nor is it anybody’s business if a mom wants to cover up and segregate while breastfeeding. We are not the police of womxn’s bodies in a sisterhood.

Which brings me to my next point…why do you think moms are angry for being told where/when/how/baring how much flesh they should breastfeed? Did you know that our children’s right to breast milk has been enshrined in the SA constitution since 2012? Thus my child’s right to food is protected and going after me is going after my child’s right to eat. Construing the brelfies as angry/attention seeking/attempting to make history selfies is misguided on your part. You know what you turn into when someone harms your child. These are momma bears protecting their children’s rights. The fact that they are brave enough to share these images and blaze a trail, as Andrea B commented – is a gift to future generations. Mothers don’t want what’s wrong with this generation to remain wrong for the next.

 

I also want to point out that the flip title you created for the image of the blonde mom breastfeeding on a bench is quite cruel. I know you didn’t mean to be mean but look for Paa.la on Facebook and follow her journey of becoming a breastfeeding advocate. As I type this she is in hospital with her premature baby, born at 24 weeks.

 

There is still so much more I want to unpack about this problematic blog post of yours…I’m afraid I’ve run out of time today.

 

But the door is wide open if you need any more information on the vital aspects of how we normalise breastfeeding in South Africa.

 

Love,

Anel and the Normalise Breastfeeding South Africa movement .

*pap: Ground maize meal. The staple food of South African people.

(Thank you my darling friend Tsholo for sharing the beautiful pic of a mama breastfeeding her baba xxx – source unknown)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sindiwe


For the indomitable spirit that is Sindiwe Magona. Halala!

sindiwe-magona-pic-31

I beheld this petite package of fireworks and dynamite the first time when I went to stalk Antjie Krog at the Goethe in Parktown. Doctor Sindiwe Magona read from her Biography of Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane.  I remember feeling impatient, the only Archbishop I’ve ever had an interest in is Desmond Tutu, especially after reading about him through the gaze and heart of Antjie Krog. I sighed. The extract Sindiwe read was from when the Archbishop was locked up on Robben Island and in the matter of 5 minutes, laughing, crying and cheering ensued from all of us in that room. What an exciting way with words this woman has! Then she read her poem Please, take photographs  – and I knew this would be an author whose work I would follow for the rest of my days. If you haven’t read that poem yet, please, take the time. Do yourself the favour.

During the Q & A afterwards, the issue of domestic workers arose. Someone was crying white tears about their white guilt of employing a black woman to do the cleaning. I thought uh oh when I saw her face. Her eyes were little slants and she was smiling. Later I would find out,  as Astrid Stark wrote in Interview with Dr Sindiwe Magona – for the love of literature:

“Working as a domestic worker for four years, and as a single mom, she made a bit of extra money selling sheep heads and even selling liquor on a take-out basis.  She lived with about thirteen souls in a four-roomed hose (sic) in Gugulethu.  By candlelight she acquired her general certificate of education with the University of London, followed by her bachelor’s degree through UNISA.”

Then Doc Magona laughed a short, loud HAHA – slapped her thigh and spoke to us of black women cleaning homes. Her face was serious, you could see the pragmatist at work. She said, sure – get a domestic employee – make sure she’s young and ask her what her plan is going forward. Make it patent she must get educated. Make sure she’s in an out of your employ in 5 years.

This  wisdom has lingered with me all these 5 years since that first time we interacted…

We were walking to our car after that exhilirating night at the Goethe. I just hear ‘tsk’ (or ‘cluck’ as you write Doc) and YOH, what happened to your car?  I turn to see a small figure in the dark, frowning. “A taxi took the door out, mam” I stutter and blush. “And I’m not insured.” She gave me a little pat on the shoulder and kept walking. Those taxis, tsk. And she was gone.

Fast forward to Cape Town, November 2016. It’s been almost a year since I lost my mother. On Monday I was fortunate enough to attend the launch of Doc Magona’s latest novel, Chasing The Tails of My Father’s Cattle. And I was fortunate enough to get a seat too. Book Lounge was packed. It was electric! She was joined by a lady on stage who it turned out didn’t irritate only me, but everyone after the 60th purchase of Sindiwe’s new work, as that’s all the irritating lady ordered. For such a big opening night.  Cluck.

What struck me most about listening to Sindiwe speak that night is the magnitude of her compassion. When she speaks plainly about subjects that can spark controversy or make people seriously uncomfortable or openly scolds stupidity – she does so with the love of a mother. How I wanted to run back and tell my mother about that night, the way I did after the first time at the Goethe.

When she signed my book (which I fortunately bought soon enough) she saw me stumble and waffle. I’m the world’s worst starfucker. Gush, brabble, blush.  She grabbed me and gave me a looooong hug, probably as much to shut me up as to share her genuine, earthy love of people.

And so this white girl’s education is also elevated by you Doc Magona. I’m going to isiXhosa classes, so as to read your new story. Both to understand the phrases in isiXhosa, which come without references – sociologically. And more importantly, to climb into the hollow of the heart of this story and curl up there. These stories.  Someone once remarked he’s never once met Settlers as blatantly deaf, dumb and blind to their fellow countrymen’s language and culture as white South Africans. It’s true. I’m going to remedy that at the ripe age of 39.

Enkosi, Dokotela Magona.

Pure Teater


Dis pure teater, hierdie lewe.

Dis ‘n Griekse Tragedie.

Ek strek my palms en daar is twee littekens.

Ek sal nooit die een op my regterhand vergeet nie.

Ek was warm in jou boesem se sublieme reuk

Terwyl Dr Bertus die 3 steke ingewerk het.

‘n Vrou het my vertel treur vir jou dooie  Ma is ‘n tsunami.

Dis geweldadig. Nes jy dink die vorige golf is verby

Is jy weer onder, toegedraai in soutwater en tragedie.

Ek het jou so liefgehad, Mamma.

Het jy geweet?