Reading a poem by Andries Walter Oliphant outside Bob’s Bar in Long Street
“Poetry is a bowl of naartjies on a table next to a vase of dried fynbos with a bottle of wine and some bread and cheese and olives and a jar of konfyt the floor is old yellowwood and there are ghekos in the rafters and a berg wind blows in from the veld rippling the still-life and highlighting the simple simple simple beautiful profound stuff and pathos of life and everyday events.”
Andries Walter Oliphant
A freckled antelope grazes in the valley
where the leaves are alive with finches
Perched on the branches of a mangrove
a pied kingfisher below the surface
of the rippling water.
In the sky a lightening bird circles.
I dream of my beloved with water on her skin
naked in the sand.
A reed basket a shoal of skipjacks.
She is the speckled antelope
with incandescent eyes and speckled horns.
The bristle in her hide, dark velvet.
She is a flock of finches
against the last light.
I kneel before her fierce beauty.
My beloved is a pied kingfisher, waiting
her eyes are clear water.
She is the branches and the roots of the mangrove.
My beloved is the magical life
in the water.
She is the lightening bird
circling above the valley
where I wait for her fiery fury.
Andries Walter Oliphant is one of the poets featured in Africa! My Africa! He is a widely published poet, fiction writer, critic and cultural policy planner. He is Professor in Theory of Literature at the University of South Africa. He won the Thomas Pringle Award for Short Stories in 1991 and the Book Journalist of the Year Award in 1998.