Peepholes to the Past

Crop from Whale of a Tale

Peepholes (a translation of Loergate, by D J Opperman)

My three daughters hung

at Franskraal*

a washed-up Japanese net

against the bare bricks

of the play hall

on old copper ship’s yard nails

and in the black knotted mesh

they trapped:

a glass bobber, a snake’s cast-off skin,

a sea sandal that screamed with open maw, shells

of ostrich egg, tortoises of land

and sea, urchins and corals, a finch’s nest

and skull of sheep, bishop, seal and gull

and, up against a beam

with thick nylon, tightly

above a wooden reel pulley and bamboo rod,

above my tea chest of bush violet wood

suspended

from the tides when whales

spray-rained and tumble-danced

through the halls of the milk wood trees

a chunk of vertebra

(*Possibly not this place, but it has goose in it. :))

It is nigh impossible to get the flavour of Afrikaans translated into English, especially the gritty brogue of some of it. I only found two of the Comas‘s poems that I could translate …the next one is a somewhat erotic one:

My Gooseberry from Inchanga

It was on New Formosa*

right of the platform

between the railway plots

where serious asters, malvas** and cannas

somewhere from Inchanga, bloomed

but by chance between them

a gooseberry stowed away

oh, my gooseberry

take off your english puff panties

so that I can carefully observe

nestled in the the lacy groin***

the small eggs

oh, my gooseberry

why am I dowsing?

(* where the temperature today is +22 degrees C, not  −22 degrees C

**malva…as in marshmallow, not halva as in nutty;

***(groans) what can I say… this is exactly why I cannot write erotica; it makes me snort in an unseemly manner.)

Here, have an appelliefie. I love gooseberries:

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About michelledevilliersart

Dribbler, scribbler, dabbler, doodler, dreamer...
This entry was posted in Education, Flowers, language, poetry, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Peepholes to the Past

  1. Great translations, thanks Michelle!

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