Una laps the pond water like a dog. Her eyes stare into the sharded reflection of her animal self. None to see her in the moonlight. It’s her and the pondweed-and-frog smell of the night. She wonders how it is that all she ever feels, really feels, deep down, is utter confusion – a constant state of not being in touch, missing out on vital truths, seeing them in outline perhaps but never grasping them in her spacious moon-brain. The pitted moon – how far from the earth and closer to the sun, yet always one part in utter darkness.

She envies the clear conviction and certainty of people who live in her world. Why aren’t they aware of the bendable, stretchable universe and the chaos. The limitations of her mind perplex her. Why can’t she reach out and touch those shadows that circle around her like dancers.

The lights in the house glow orange and comforting. She watches, like an outsider, through the curtains into her home. Her children move in the lounge and the man stands clutching an oven-glove watching a fascinating moment on the little television across the room. She hears the hum of TV talk and human conversation. It’s a very pretty sight – moving and comforting – yes.

To be a part of that and not – an interesting position.

She pushes her hands into the grass and slowly gets up. Brushes the pond-side bits and pieces off her cotton dress and slips sandals onto her feet, spits the hair out of her mouth, straightens her cardigan.

He steps onto the veranda and frowns into the darkness. “Una,” he calls, “did you get the teddy bear?”

She’d forgotten about the child’s bedtime comfort. She’d come out to look for it among the trees where the children had been playing. They both knew the drama that would ensue.

“No,” she said.

“Well come in anyway. It’s late and sooner or later he’ll have to learn to do without the thing.”

The limp thing smelt of her little son’s adenoids and perspiration. It was almost hairless where he had rubbed it and held it night after night. There were patches covering the holes where stuffing had leaked out. It had a green waistcoat and its eyes were dulled with scratches. An object of love and security.

In that warm house there is never time to reflect, to talk to the quiet. Out here in the autumn darkness she feels less like the squeezed teddy bear.

“Una!” there is a note of impatience now.

“I’m coming…”

I’m coming into the warm world again, to be filled with business and cooking and you. I’m leaving behind my animal self, leaving it crouching in the long grass, gazing at the moon.

To the insane asylum dead on Andrews Road, Port Alfred

Numbers, no names in this toothy field:
Stone incisors tilt drunkenly beneath a twelve o clock sky.

Your flaking bones and gaping mouths
lie forgotten in the press of earth,
lost lacework…

Did tender fingers once trace the shell of your ear,
some mouth kiss your warm cheek,
before grey walls and white doors shut out the light,
before your brain burst behind your bloodshot eyes?

Who never came to claim you?
And who clunked the gurney under the run of soulless lights,
Who signed the form, slotted you, filed you and forgot you?

Where do they lie?

But in the crush of years
all turn to dust,
cherished and uncherished.
So why do I ache to scratch away the earth,
find your milky bones,
tease tarsals out like little seeds,
cradle your skull,
give you back your name?

I tremble. A fragment stirs
and I breathe its evocation:
Names can bind and set you free…

Perhaps the mystic in me has not withered utterly;
Parchment dry,
but waiting for a little rain.