Sunday, 24 January 2010

antjie krog

I am, Because You Are

*Axiom of African philosophy emphasizing the interconnectedness of everything

what sense does the down on your cheek make
as gravity crunches ice-stone and dust
collisions leave debris and flaring hot kernels
devouring moons, tearing up small stars, pulverising surfaces
as swarms of stars scrounge on cloud-ice and gleaming gas-jets?

why would your left cheek come to mind
surrounded as we are by scorching balls
helium, sun winds, impact craters
and gravitation whirlpools where giant stars implode so forcibly
that not even light escapes?

among left-behind-wells of darkness
black holes where nothing but violence holds forth
what is the use of a tender gesture?

if solar systems shoot apart as if hurled in fury
driven by consuming temperatures and unknowable speeds
if a centre-less universe fills all space
by making space where space never was space
if unseen, unsaid dark matter
threatens to block out fragmentary haloes and the few scribblings of light
then my thumb tracing your lower lip has no place

but spiral arms exist, you say
the lovely, feathery, spiral arms of our galaxy exist
in a dreamlike ballet, you say, of nebulae and orbits
and the slow pulsing lifespan of stars
spiral arms exist, you say, and oxygen and quasars
and nebulous uteruses from which protostars stumble dizzily
whirlpools, nebulae and star-heaps exist
quasars exist, stable gravity exists
and immense luminosity from the outskirts of the visible universe,
you say spiral arms exist, the Milky Way exists
smooth orbits exist, the lovable-ness of moons
tides exist and eternal equilibrium, all of these exist, you say

but it is the stars as piercings of light on a summer evening
that keep us in orbits of reaching out
every time we turn towards each other
we do it under a sweeping baldachin of stars


Claire said...

aah a south african poet and writer. my homeland. where a part of me still hides.

your work is though provoking...

swiss said...

at last someone comments on antjie krog. i love this poem,this excerpt forming part of a longer work.

i;ve never been to south africa but i imagine it as one of those places with enormous skies where you can look up and indulge in just the sort of meditation that krog does here.