Katherine Kilalea was born in South Africa and moved to London in 2005 to study for an M.A. in creative writing at the University of East Anglia. She is the author of One Eye’d Leigh, shortlisted for a Costa Poetry Award and longlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize for writers under 30. She has received Arts Council Awards for poetry and represented South Africa at the London Southbank Centre’s Poetry Parnassus in 2012.
Whatever you love most dearly
My dearest brother, last night
I saw water playing in the pond
where the women were swimming.
I was stationed in the House for
the Study of Water amid parapets
and ruby red columns under the
open sky. I was with a man. His
name was Curtis. It was muggy
outside. He said, it wants to be a
storm. I said, it (the water) held
no more shape than a dream. He
is so much better than me. I have
so much rage and confusion. I lay
on my stomach and made notes in
pencil. From the veranda in front
of the living room I can see the
entire garden, including the river,
and further, the shapes of people
I knew, including you. I’d like to
get closer but what the hell. In any
case I can almost hear you saying
to yourself he always was an over-
ambitious but timorous child to
which I can add only the assurance
that now I am a man and nothing
in a man’s life is more certain
than his being too timid or too
stupid or something. It goes with-
out saying: a man cannot have
intercourse with a river. But what
then can he hope for? If you do not
know, she says, why then do you not
ask? You want to stay with me, to
come away with me on holiday,
to live with me in my house? The
truth is, if I could, I would have
followed her permanently and
without resistance. Or did you
expect me to just lie here like a
Mona Arshi was a human rights lawyer who has retrained as a Poet. She recently completed her Masters in Creative Writing (Poetry) at the University of East Anglia and obtained a distinction.
Mona’s poem Hummingbird won first prize in the Magma Magazine poetry competition in 2012.She has recently been selected for ‘The Complete Works’, a national development programme funded by the Arts Council. Her collection was shortlisted by Simon Armitage in the 2012 Book and Pamphlet Competition.
Not even our own eye are our own – Frederico Garcia Lorca, ‘The House of Bernarda Alba’
I want to tune in to the surface, beside the mayfly
listen to how she holds her decorum on the skin of the pond.
I want to sequester words, hold them in stress positions,
foreignate them ,string them up to ripen on vines.
and I want to commune with rain and for the rain to be
merciful, a million tiny pressures on my flesh.
I refuse to return as either rose or tulip but wish
to be planted under the desiring night sky.
I want to be concentrated to a line under the pleat of your palm
and for it to radiate opalesque under shadow.
I want God’s fingers to break and for you to watch as I
fold over my sleeve, reveal the detail of my paling wrist