FALLING (HETTIE'S LOVE SONG)

 

(Oosthuizen, Hester C., gebore van der Watt: 10.4.1930 - 3.8.1964)

 

(For Esthie - who should have been called,

after her paternal grandmother, Hester.)

 

I thought it was the sea

Dragging me to the surface,

And away from you;

By the time I began to swim to consciousness

(Registering at some level

That our beach holiday was over,

The shore two days, 

An unresolved argument, and

Hundreds of solid earth miles

Away)

I had no way of comprehending

This new reality;

Such fluidity in a foundation

I, a mine worker's wife, after all,

Have often known to dance

Only made sense within the logic

Of the ocean;

Here, though, no lift first

From a rising swell -

Only the drop,

A falling away from the norm, the base, the limit,

The support and measure of all

I know - even the sea,

The crumpled, deathless sea,

Where the water takes my body without shame,

And my children dive

To surface again scared and laughing,

And you are always there

To catch me.

 

I had time,

Moving through the roar like waves,

To untangle myself from you and

Step from our bed,

Fight the floor for purchase

With no legs for this changing element,

And reach a buckling wall,

Where the light switch briefly obeyed

Laws we command by

Submitting ourselves to them;

Blinded at first by the yellow flood

The firm lines of familiarity flickered through into focus

Only to blur quickly into their collapse

When gravity became the only certainty,

Our children a lost hope in another room,

And I heard myself fill the space

Falling away beneath my feet with screaming

As I tried to find my way across all eternity

 

Back to you.