Three Poems

Klara du Plessis


I eke
out a meaning for my self.








Stutter ringing
sharp peals of smiles at the attempt / contempt
the temptation to become myself is great.

We’re on such intimate terms, when he writes me, he says, hi K,
I did not give him leave to abbreviate
he takes the initiative
to do in the rest of my spelling.

My name is embedded in my pronoun.

K Afr
C Anglophone / mobile phone / peripatetic cp. very pathetic
One of the first things I learn is that Afrikaans doesn’t write with Cs
seen everything.

A mirror image is never static.
No still photograph reverses itself, modulates
or rearranges its face, unless it is another picture altogether.
The possibility exists that K reflects C in a way that has bent or curved
one letter into a resemblance of another.

One of the first things I learn is that English rarely uses K,
except in a CK combination
Rotate the numbers till chimera and metal gives off on fingertips
tieties in die wind
words kiss but never uncover any form of hidden meaning
unless that meaning is the meaning in that moment
memento mori.

It is the K in my name that saves me.
K in me ek
C is meek.

There are certain associations I harbour against Clara
too British
too Victorian heroine
sweet virtuous desirous / solely in a nuclear family way
complicit in characterization
eyes cast down
passive except for good deeds, dead perhaps.
Conceded there is clarity in Clara but claustrophobic
her beauty is in the innocence of hair lying like unraveling lace on her chest.
Her chastity is duty
her aesthetic ethics
knowledge is restricted to goodness.
The perfect equilibrium, when she
lowers her eyes it is modesty, when I
fail in eye
it’s a skittishness a fault
an unsocialized character default blank slate.
Connect the dots of our eyes when we chat.
I shame my sister name because I get it
sense the same gentleness cum submission in me.
If you close the wide open legs of the K, she becomes a cross / kruis
a position of art
submission but with intention
what after all is the difference between gentleness and gentility
a certain crossness in the chirography.

Coincidentally, at the exact moment I consider writing my name
I read about another kind of Clara
modernized, which means still not quite contemporary.
An artist,
she demands respect in a way that implies erudition but with pride
self-consciousness negation no-nonsense drapery dresses.
Steeds nie
klinkklaar nie.
Die klankbaan konglomereer om die ore
n skrikbeeld van oorbelle
mond oorblyfsels teen die skedel

ancestry perverted as

Ekke is n nadruksvorm van ek.
n Dialek

I am an emphasis of myself.

I speak languages.
Statuary marble
to construct my mouth and bite words out in frieze.

In my handwriting more often looks like move.
Move somehow in time
I want to spell hand with more pretension like a playwright.

My language
is a secret / secretion
curled up in a recess
uncurling its animal muscles when the break is done and
auditorium bells chime dier dierbaar baarmoeder mother tongue licks, licks cryptically
from the crypt inside me.
Afrikaans is an affection
hidden / geheim
I know for a fact that Heim is home in another language
the finger that sticks its tongue right in there to
break in my hymen.
Deciduous female figures
cast off selves
left and right
lies grow out of shoulder blades and lodge /
a nervous condition called the angelic

is an extension
attached to the back or to dial a direct call

ek ke
ek ek
k lyk soos vlerke.

Forget what I say most of the time
thing is, he listens, he thinks.
When lovers lie back-to-back there is dust on things they’ll never clean
their bodies inflecting wings.
is not a mirror reflection
but it is a reflection.


The mirror is not a safe space.
When I look in the mirror I see / C
reflections of language.
It is prejudiced against me,
I do not belong in any one mirror my tongue licks away the definition
of language in the mist on the glass
the glass responds differently when I ask in different lingos
there is no lingua franca of the mind
my kind
jou taal is ontwortel
n gegorrel
genade tog

I got to go.


To haïr
To hair
To hate
J’ai hâte
I anticipate
I hate.

Un hair
A hair
A haïr
To un-hair
A negation
A removal
An indefinite article.

A kind of emasculation
A kind of Samson
A kind of Rapunzel
Letting down my hair whole stories at a time.
Dress up
Or let my hair down.
Dress down
Give him a dressing down.

I can’t give you what you want, he says.
Me: how do you know what I want.
She veux
She wants

Words are sounds that sometimes pretend to have meaning

Klara is away.
She says she’s in a weird mind space.
She clings to sepia as the focus of regret.
She walks away says no
this is a new identity
complex and complicated
leading to a mix-up of intention.
Uphill lost and mostly familiar.
Her familiarity with the city is the familiarity between us.
Klara doesn’t forget details.
She knows that what comes after the quote
is the most important part
the exposition of
fingers embracing the air.
This was meant to be a memoir of sorority
yet it feels so long ago that Klara suspects it
fib of delirium
memories of museums alleys coffee tables
cinema and then there is this.
Klara sends me weighty poetry.
Klara prioritizes her baggage.
Klara is constantly in the future while in the past.
She is unsure who she is
but knows that she uses her own shadow for shelter.
She looks beautiful wearing one of Klara’s shirts.
Klara hosts parties political and otherwise.
Klara works part-time in a jazz bar.
She has a new poem.
Sticks to her opinion that the novel is an outdated structure
which belongs to the 19th century.
She is unsure how to transform herself into herself
but knows that a little bit of herself lives inside herself.
The bildungsroman is a form of bilingualism.
I restore correspondence
and to Klara’s delight I receive a postcard
with an image of the founder of haiku
he suffered heavily from tuberculosis
was nicknamed after a bird
who coughed blood in order to sing beautifully.
I profoundly dislike the genre of tragic suffering artists
attempt to be happy and healthy it has been a happy month indeed.
Klara is elders.
Sy sê sy leef in haar kop.
Sy klou aan n estetika van spyt

Her aesthetic spits / saliva survives.
Sy draai om wys van die hand af
dis n nuwigheid
kompleksiteit ingelyf
lei tot n dubbelsinnigheid van namens my

The manipulation of the hand
full-bodied complexity
that is the ambiguity of naming me.
Opdraand verlore en meestal kennisse.
Haar kennis van die stad tussen ons.
Klara vergeet min.
Sy weet na-aanhaling
is die belangrikste
die uiteensetting van
vingers die aanvoeling van lug

Lugging this tome of sisterhood
delirious fibs
herinneringe van museums stegies tafels
and that is that.
Klara weighs her poetry
prioritizes hand over heart luggage.
Sy is onseker wie sy is
maar weet sy gebruik haar skaduwee as skuiling.
Sy lyk pragtig geklee in een van Klara se bloese.
Klara as gasheer polities in/korrek.
Klara werk deeltyds barbaars

Klara is weak but partly barbaric.
She writes a new poem.
Barred from all that jazz.
Stokke na haar mening is dat die roman
n verouderde struktuur.
Sy is onseker

the sugar rush of finding herself.
The transformative narrative of the tongue.
en Klara se vreugde dat ek n kaart
found poetry in the image
he suffered heavily from TB/DSM
bynaam bird bid
bloed hoes how’s beauty now
tragiese kunssinnigheid sinning all the way
atrophy at the attempt
to be happy and healthy
hell yeah.

Words are sounds that sometimes pretend to have meaning.