Aabye's Baby
They're turning home again
now that they've beaten it to death.
Scorched palms, grim blackened faces,
thirsty, rasping throats.
But done with it, thank God.

Their careful firebreaks worked, a siege.
They starved it, broke it
buckled by their will, their long and agonising night.
They still taste smoke, the bitter blinding veil
that almost swallowed them.

But now they look towards their morning windows,
kitchens lit, their families awake.
Cool water from the tap, smooth soap,
a glass of milk, sweet rest.

They're blessed indeed to have these homes to go to still
when everywhere the earth is charcoal, crushed and hot.
The bones of little creatures crunched to fine, black grit,
dark funeral confetti settling on the plain.

On chill, clean sheets they wait for sleep
to douse the flames that dance behind their lids,
not knowing how the shrubs' hot arteries smoulder on.
And all it takes is one soft breath,
one warm stroke of the breeze,
to massage it to life again,
awake its appetite, its fierce and hungry throb.

photo of authorIsobel Dixon is a South African now living in Cambridge, UK and working in London as a literary agent. She has published widely in South Africa, where her debut collection WEATHER EYE was published by Carapace Poets in 2001 and won the Sanlam Award and the Olive Schreiner Award. She has had work published in the British Council anthologies NEW WRITING 8, 10 and 11. She has also had poems in London Magazine, Wasafiri, Orbis, still, The Guardian and The Paris Review. She won the Oxfam 'Poems for a Better Future' Prize in 2004. Veld first appeared in the South African magazine New Coin. The Aabye's Baby Archive
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Isobel Dixon, 1999
Isobel Dixon, 2006
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This page last updated: 12th November 2006.