Day of rest
The order comes: “Down tools.”
You stop driving buses, lock the tills.
Guides leave the Taj Mahal,
Pyramids. Ski lifts hang over glaciers.
In markets, all you hear is flies –
there’s no-one underground, no planes,
no money moves. TVs show blue lagoons
to a soundtrack of wind. Food’s eaten raw.
Your tongue remembers the taste of blood,
your hand how an apple gives as you pull
it from a tree. Dancing returns to empty
spaces the way a cactus blooms.
You watch a wren, look up to the sky
you fell from. You become the greeting
of a Venda woman: “Ah,” a slow exhalation.
(from Commandments, Arc, 2007)
Jackie Wills has published five collections of poetry. Powder Tower (Arc, 1995) was shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize. She was one of Mslexia‘s Top 10 New Women Writers in 2004. Her most recent collection is Woman’s Head As Jug, Arc, 2013.