Athol Williams

This turning

My mother kisses me
on the lips,
leaf to leaf.

My sister wraps her head in a scarf
wherever she goes, like a meatball
wrapped in cabbage.

My father crushes and rolls
dried leaves, then adds a flame
to make smoke, to make merry.

My neighbour abducts worms
from their homes on leaves
for his dinner – the worms, not the leaves.

I don’t eat worms or meatballs
but my diet is more than leaves –
pumpkin, mango, tofu, pasta.

I am almost fifty, yet still
my mother kisses me
on the lips, leaf to leaf;
I wish she wouldn’t
but the earth turns
and the wind blows
and the leaves come and go
and I am part of this turning
my mother, sister, father, neighbour,
all of us, part of this turning.

“This turning” was first published in Stanzas

Athol Williams is a South African poet and social philosopher who has published 4 collections of poems, an autobiography ‘Pushing Boulders’ and 4 children’s books.  His poetry awards include the Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award (which he won twice), the Parallel Universe Poetry Competition (Oxford University) and runner-up for the South African Literary Award for Poetry.  He holds degrees from Harvard, MIT, LSE, London Business School, Wits and is currently a student of political philosophy at Oxford University.