1 Black bird in the middle of the day

2 Redemption from an onerous sin

3 Discovering women


De Waal



28 January 2011-01-28 Bio 1.6

Black bird in the middle of the day

That bird

saying something to itself

in the great silence

of the afternoon

in the high grass

of the veld

in the endless sunshine.

I hear that bird.

My foot hurt

from the thorn still inside

a boy’s foot.

That is not anymore.

Is the veld still there,

does the bird

talk quietly into the heat,


It hurts inside me,

inside the old man’s heart.



17 December 2008 1.6

Redemption from an onerous sin

In the still of the night

the dog scratched himself

on the stoep.


The moon had got lost somewhere

and the little light

left in this night

is thin as water.


Down the passage

in the lounge

in which we never sit,

grandfather the clock

swings its scythe

left, right, death, life, left, right.


The boy lies still,

he watches something

that is almost a line

where the curtains meet,

he hasn’t told Jesus yet.


Jesus …



Jesus tucks his nightgown

around his legs against the chill,

he is wearing his brown slippers.


I took an egg from the nest,

it is as blue as the sky

and it has freckles,

I’m sorry.


Hmmm, Jesus said, that bird will not be born.

I’m sorry, said the boy.

That was a bad thing,

Jesus said.


The boy cried.

It’s OK now, Jesus said.

The boy slept.



21 January 2008 2.1

Discovering women


In 1950 the boy’s world

was mostly populated by women.

Men were there as well

but they were like forces of nature

dark, incomprehensible, moving around

making deep sounds.


Women had red painted nails,

they had permed hair,

they had bosoms

smelling of babies.

They spoke often, mostly pleasantly,

their words left a dryish lipstick taste

on the boy’s lips.


When they kicked off their high heels

the damp odour

of their nylon stockinged feet

had a strange allure.


There were little girls,

small feral things

with glittering, gathering eyes

and they sometimes bit.


The boy wanted one of these

but did not know how to acquire her.

So he touched her hair

and she slapped him away.


That night he slept with the sting

of her eyes

cuddled in his arms.