Aunt May, gaunt, musty, fly papered, bitter
Only softened as she told me her stories
Of a childhood in the Karoo,
Trailing with her sister through the veldt
Towards the waterhole.
She even gave me a book
That told the story of the mountains, rivers,
A lush land until the drought
That wiped out the sheep, the farms
Dried up the riverbeds.
Vines shrivelled, and as others did
Along the railway that traversed
Treasure (gold, diamonds, food)
from northern to southern
Africa, our family sold
The farm, split the goods
And jumped the train to Cape Town
To find professions until the diaspora
Student protests, her
Daughter, granddaughter dead.
My rocking chairs survived
The journey out, and her china
Cracked and worn, her
Shards from a past
That curdles in its misery
May warned me not to love
Too much, her loss gripped
Around a child’s wrist.
Heidi Joffe(M.Ed.) is a poet and visual artist who moves between the Pacific Northwest and the Midwest. She has published essays and poems in several journals, both local and international.