Wilderness Walk at Towerland, Langeberg Mountains

It is this again, legs and body screaming
ready to give up because it too hard and
my belly feels too soft and wants to loosen.
The more I hold on the harder the walk becomes
until my calves cramp crying out ‘this is enough’.
Even the soles of my feet hurt. Every stone
balancing on dirt just to unbalance me and my lungs
don’t wait for the air to catch-up and grasp and gasp
and the air moves away.


It is the night air that still inhabits my body –
its call is to dream, to remember the fireflies
lighting the path to where magic happens.


Later the buchu tree spikes energy into my hands
but I am still unrooted. I slip and slide and tumble –
the rocks, the soil reminding me to pay attention,
to slow down.


On the edge of the river dragonflies visit.
their wings iridescent against the white rock
to say: there is space for everyone here.


The river gods call for an offering,
I give them water from my bottle,
I give them rooibos tea but it is not enough,
they want me to recite poetry,
they want to eat my hiking boots.
I want to give them everything.
And then there is a dragonfly again, soft
waiting, saying: it is okay to wait.

And I remember the bee at morning prayers
saying: good morning, saying: here I am, follow me.


Our bodies are nothing but monuments
to the things we ask of them,
because sometimes we want more than our bodies
are prepared to give.
Sometimes too much is asked of us.


As the ferns drop their heads in the wind
like karakul, hare, porcupine come to drink
at the river’s edge, I hear the crackle of fire
in the water but it is only a premonition
of what may come next summer,
the promise of water is now,
the promise of water is here and
the water voices call me to lie down
in the water, in this liminal space
of green and fish and frogs.


The earth calls me to unpeel myself
from the rock, to bury my feet in the soil
as if this will root me somehow.
When I say that my ancestors are not buried
in this land, what does that mean?
Should I take my own bones and bury them
somewhere else?


I still hear the crackle of fire,
but now a small cave beckons me in
and the water voices call again
and I say: I am here.


On the return journey my body
tries to hold on again as if it doesn’t know
the hardest part is over,
and then it remembers the orchid
that smells like cinnamon,
and the button it found on the rocks,
and the baboon scat, the aardvark holes,
the waterfall, the river,
and the luminescent yellow four petalled flowers
and the bright purple flowers and the proteas,
and all the flowers, and bushes and trees
whose names I may never know,
and it lets go.


A red-bodied dragonfly signposts the path back
and the wind calls, write about me, write about me.


A blue headed lizard is waiting for me outside my room,
it turns its head from side to side listening to all the news,
and I say: I am here, I am here.