1. Er liebt mich
Do you see, I can count.
Of all things they do not take away
2. Von Herzen
White shirt and shadow,
nape of the neck and what then —
When I am made old,
when the child goes
and a woman stands here, wearing my shoes,
wearing her hair tied with white cloth,
what will you have been?
You are not a young man
and are glad that I will make do.
& I am not a pearl.
I am the Karoo house you spent a winter in once.
You filled the kitchen with white bougainvillea,
leaned back at the table and cleaned the knife.
And when you left you grimaced and said
how you couldn’t stand the dust of the place,
how all the dogs walk around
with such sad eyes, you want to kick them
just to prove them right.
3. Mit Schmerzen
Let me smooth the line there.
Let me smooth the line.
Your trousers, shirt, face,
I will make the face of the linen
It is a hard summer.
The rooms are filled with the migraine.
The windows are red
and ringing with silhouettes.
I will send the dog out. I will close the curtains.
Let us be kind to each other
in the dark.
I will not make a sound.
Let nothing carve that line,
let me breathe the pain easy
into the world.
Let the sun out,
it is pacing the room,
See here, if you let me,
I am full
4. Klein wenig
You will say
stop shivering, standing there.
It’s just as you said,
if I breathe slowly now, if I count
quietly in my head,
I can do anything.
So you see, they have
not taken numbers
away from me.
Here are the summer moths
dying in droves on the windowsills,
here are the sparrows
beating their brains out
against glass. Here is a little ribbon and cotton.
A side room. A map.
Five boxes of books.
A desk of young pine.
You tell me to wait there
while you finish a chapter.
I tell you, I shiver,
I am eating my own mouth
for these words, my skin is in ribbons,
my veins are shot blue,
the words come out
from a cat’s first kill. I tell you wait, please,
5. Nein, gar nicht
When the chalk-faced young man gave me
your phone number,
I learned it off by heart on sight
and so could hand the paper back to him.
I thought for a long time I would call.
I thought I would say,
I forgive you for what you did.
For a long time I was very sore.
I did not think my body
could hold anything,
it seemed filled
with the fine scream of cicadas.
We had a son and he died.
I had a son and he died.
He was miscarried.
I miscarried him.
I could not ration the blame, could not
balance our little house of ghosts, my love.
I have closed the door to you, and our son will never
know your name.
The walls of this house
were white-hot with summer once.
I have beaten the walls
with my fists,
they are blue.
~ Mishka Hoosen
Mishka Hoosen is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa. She graduated from Interlochen Arts Academy in the US and Rhodes University in South Africa. She is a regular contributor to the Ploughshares blog. Her first novel, ‘Call it a Difficult Night’ was published by Deep South Books in 2015.