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Nuwe skryfwerk | New writing > Poësie | Poetry > English > Published poets

The owl and the swan

Ingrid de Kok - 2011-04-07

The owl and the swan

For AK and JS

A spotted eagle owl
swooped on to his Cape Town roof
like the vengeance of the Lord,
sat there silently for hours                                
the night before he left to see her,  

while in Berlin the next morning
when she rose to prepare herself
she heard a great apocalyptic sound
and from her window saw a swan lever itself
off the lake and into the sky.

And he said to himself - this yellow-eyed owl         
on my house is an omen of menace,
means failure, disaster, death.
I am an African, my ancestors are warning me.
At least I know what to expect.

She thought - oh, swan, oh long-necked white swan
of the northern poets, of northern lakes,
I am an African, I believe in the messages of birds,
and your arrow flight past my window
tells me that everything is going to be alright.


From Other Signs (Kwela/Snailpress), due to appear in August 2011.