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first published in The Interpreter's House, 25, Feb 2004

 

Meet the Ancestor

 

Walking home from work, I saw him,

poking at brambles where the slip meets Raglan Road.

He saw me too, although his back was turned.

My lightweight sound and smell carried no danger.

 

As I came up, he swivelled back to front,

upright, naked.  His manhood dropped into its thick-grown covert,

armpit plumes drifted across his chest, hair over hair,

his small bright eyes peered from beneath their ledge,

his huge scent swamped us both.

 

I tried to smile, nothing with showing teeth.

His eye-glint shifted, then his brown lips moved

into a scant reflection, his curving wrist approached

laid a brief finger on my inner thigh, withdrew at once.

 

Turning, he pulled a fruit, held it up and my hand took it,

my body knowing better what to do than I did.

I put it in my mouth.  He watched.

 

Suddenly, a great sigh heaved away from him.

His half-thoughts jostled and shoved at me,

urgently fronting nascent memory.

Strange formations of clouds, a moon shaking in water,

the tigerís bloodied underbelly skimming his mouth.

 

My ancestor bent over me, slid a soft leather hand behind my neck.

Carefully fitting his nostrils under mine,

he snorted gently up into my skull.

 

Sylvia Rowbottom

 

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