Maria’s Pyre


Maria of Europe stained crimson the earth of Africa.

Shadowed by the Elandskloof

They could see the ship

Signals on the mountain

Maria would observe the skies

Blue, to be darkened with her cries

Her life, the stain of her prye

Couldn't see the trap lurking in husband's hands, lover’s arms, 

Forces unleashed from her passion’s fire.


They say she did her husband’s slave

That her husband’s slave did him.

Forcefully, some truth extract––

aided by the lash, the rack––

assured dead hubby’s jealous rage

quenched, by a fire at her back. 

* * * * *

Land rolls to flat, parched summers,  drenched winters

The face of the mountain sheer, shedding

Torrents into the home of eland, 

stray ostrich, a solitary leopard

Soaring pair of fish eagles

Dancing diving duiker

broad browed buffalo, 

Bred now for breeding without pleasure

The oddest looking sugar bird,

All tail dragged about like a bridal train

A bachelor zebra or, perchance, gay

getting on by being a treat, threat---

only an aich separates---to none.


A million species of protea contend,

Surround monumental Eucalyptus, 

ex-patriot relics of another place, age

Colonial sentiments, sentinels, 

Shading the planters from the 

Reality of the African sun

Here still, lords towering, sucking dry the landscape

Avoiding deep roots, or propagation.

Threatened in this newest dispensation, 

By the latest froward, faddish truths.


It's all so peaceful now,

Quiet in the shade, birdsong, 

colours of the light fractured

in the arcing spray falling

Falling, dewing the hungry lawn.

Maria Mouton's passions gone,

wasted as her breath, blood.

Only the land survives 

to tell our stories

Give meaning to our days.

 © Philip Knight 2018