GOOD NEWS FROM
THE LADY MISSIONARY by Gail Dendy
[94pp, np, Kwela Books, 40 Heerengracht,
Cape Town, South Africa]
Gail Dendy was recognisably a
poet some years ago when I was involved in publishing her first collection in
1993. Things haven't changed with her latest which reads as seductively and
as satisfyingly as ever. She continues to do her muse proud and must now be
approaching deserved recognition as one of South Africa's leading poets.
That said, I would rather quote from two or three poems rather than gabble on
about how much I relish her work. So (from '7/7'):
Your face at the door is a trick. I am sure of that.
You took a journey on
the northbound track,
always so safe, so
secure, so mapped.
it's all we can bear to enter your room
with its keyhole
the size of your thumb
and windows the colour of water...
I'd swear you're
there with your characteristic
you know the crocuses have arrived as usual?
solid and small and look like broken glass.
pretend to be poor, dumb, unable
Tell me about Paris, Venice.
her name. Recite your lines.
be a little careless. I prune hard, now,
the bulge of the vein. It's easy. See.
You might not find me in time. But when you do,
forgive me my heart's fabulous energy.
And finally (alas) from 'Invitation to the Dance' (which is preceded by a
quote for Genesis about Lot's wife looking back and turning into a pillar of
...I wish to enjoy one delicious waltz
and a sexy rumba. I wish to be eloquent.
My shoes have the requisite diamonds at their heels.
My hips are satin. But there is a purple flower
hidden deep inside my mouth...
Forgiveness is a virtue. A turn of the cheek
is all that's asked. It's little enough
for my looking back. Was it a sin? I was afraid.
Now I've stood here for far too long.
I remember I had an invitation.
The city glitters with a million lights.
Please, won't you take me to the dance?