Promise by Arthur Nortje

Clock and season march, each day more mellow,

since time must nourish youth beyond blossoms:

the new furred power glints in early patterns,

brought with true focus to your beauty now.

Words drift in multitudes from your replies,

who’ve chosen foreign life: I ponder snatches.

We cross like shadows, young and watchful insects.

My time has turned to life beyond this room.

All loves have songs, once girl well thought of

set spinning a lugubrious Italian.

You, mermaid with your criss – cross rain of pale

hair, never had favourites, just friends.

That sweet detachment lingers rich in influence.

O day beyond the curtain swarms with rhythms.

My song to you is imminent: sky and glittering

sea and the grass of quick surprise, our world.

The luminous air presents its gifts of fragrance.

myself with its first taste in flowering spring.

The wind strays off the water with desire

among these leafing boughs to fork me open.

As I grow outward, what has held me shut,

unconscious of your vigil, you my swan?

I am as strong and fluid as a river

to give your empty spring its first fulfilment.

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