Sunday, 18 November 2018

More than

Across the summer grasses' fattened heads,
the wild herbs' yellow blooms -
two pigeons at the bird-bath,
sipping in turn.

They spot me pretending
not to be watching. I can see
they don't totally mistrust, nor do they trust me.

It's a healthy state of being
for pigeons and humans - that state
of being neither one
nor the other, but between,
between two poles of feeling.

Are we the only species on two legs -
obliged to hold those poles
in balance? It could be.

It could be some humans
are birds more than mammals,
and Darwin and Linnaeus' wondrous achievements
perhaps need updating.

Anyway. So across the big-headed grasses and blooms
I sit, noting the segments of cloud
in the sky, and how they resemble
an insect's belly. Remember Foucault
and his 'Age of Similitude'.
Is my thinking that archaic?

For those of you suckling babes,
or welding gates, or taking bookings
from holidaymakers - the Age of Similitude
refers to the Renaissance, when people found
resemblances, connections between things.

Whereas Darwin-and-them thought
in categories, you know - like lists,
and generally linear systems.

It's all of it useful
to us, more or less.

Anyway, the fat-headed grasses.
The birds so full of summer
they can't stop twittering.
All that
is so much older
than the baby humanity -
Nature's most recent invention,
God's last contribution.

Suddenly a pigeon hurtles
gurglingly out of the Dogwoods
and, like a flustered arrow,
shoots by at the level of my ear,

soon followed by his partner,
equally absurd: a metre off the ground,
wings spread, chest out -

as if she were some joke
on Virgin Mary
finally beyond the blues.

I cannot help but laugh.
I laugh as if I were
in company, with fellows
of my ilk.

And I am that: yellow flowers,
seed-plump stalks; the Robin practising.

Nature talks more than I can say
in one poem
at the end
of a day.

- Silke Heiss, 16th November 2018


  1. This has Renaissance written all over it. It was such a wonderful read. Silke, I have a few questions for you. How long have you been writing. It seems you have been writing your entire life. I can't remember if you've answered that question already for me. What are you reading now and what texts did you fall in love with in high school. Standard 9 and matric. For me it was Maru by Bessie Head and Cry the beloved country and Catcher in the rhye. Once again thank you for reaching out to me.

  2. Hello 'Unknown'. Would you care to make yourself known? I have been writing my entire life, yes. I am reading many things side by side. My husband, Norman Morrissey, Lewis Watling, D.H. Lawrence, Zane Grey, Barbara Fairhead ... I fell in love in high school with An Irish Airman Foresees His Death (Yeats) and Snake (Lawrence). And yes, all the books you mention, too, though you are evidently a younger generation, we had different books. My husband said once that if you write well and with care, you will make friends you will never meet. His words have become reality.

  3. What do you mean by 'Renaissance'? Thabo Mbeki dreamed it ... is it becoming real? If there is such a Renaissance in South African poetry, its fathers and mothers, for me, are the Ecca Poets, most especially the founders. Check them out at