Shishir 2018 Poems - Louella Sullivan



What you pack before the fire

By Louella Sullivan


...if there's time
one wedding dress
the Boer War Plate
socks Gran knitted
before she died

you say to your five year old:
Let's play holiday holiday
she packs a bag of clothes
(God knows what's in there)

you grab the safe you never installed
dig for the Krugar Rand
in the strata of your underpants drawer

toss photo albums in
as if your grad ball or hall formals
are what's left of your (misguided) youth

after he's watered the garden
your husband packs milk and cat food
your anti-depressants
you pack the wine you bought
(for TooMuch) to celebrate
A wish of an anniversary

things you regret

you spent your holiday installing
doors that will burn
the Boer War Table will sigh
to ashes
after surviving the Scorched
Earth your ancestors brought
from their cold sea

- the fire is confession

like in Chapel today when they said
"You leave here with a clean slate"
purified like winter veld
and as we left we sinned
with laughter or smoke



Louella Sullivan from Grahamstown learned to type poems one-handed whilst bouncing small babies on her lap. She did an MA in Creative Writing at Rhodes in 2014 where she completed her thesis Bitten under Robert Berold. She is a Drama, History and English teacher as well as a part-time lecturer at Rhodes University. She has been published in Aerodrome, New Contrast, New Coin and Itch. Her poems have been described as "polished, poised and vivid". In 2016, her poem "Refugee" was longlisted for the Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award.

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