Friday, 27 November 2015

A woman’s journey to sanity by Diana Ferrus

A woman’s journey to sanity

Diana Ferrus


Past Wellington, past Worcester and Wolseley –

the monstrous peaks loom open-mouthed.

The faces in windows whisper and mock –

“I have his report,” she wants to scream,

but the wind in the fields

through the Soutpansnek

denounces the verdict again and again –

“It’s not what she says, but what she does.”


Bosluiskloof and Brandrivier,

Porterville and Pietersburg –

the rivulets chuckle in secret song –

“The woman in slippers seems quite insane,”

“Look not at my feet but in my eyes’”.

but her diary lines are splashed against

the overgrown hills of Wiegenaarspoort –

“It’s not what she says, but what she does.”


In Swanepoelspoort where the sun means hurt,

the heavy oak trees have stories to tell.

They beg her onwards to Steytlerville,

but her voice sounds hollow in defeated response,

“Please guide my feet to Sewe Weekspoort,

for my heart feels dead and my eyes are cold”

and her traces shout in the Rosebergpass,

“It’s not what she says, but what she does.”


Through Dysselsdorp, De Rust and De Aar,

the yellow fields of the Sederberg,

water from the heavens sucks in the earth

and a woman without slippers and hospital gown

dances victorious to the dying sun –

“What matters the content of a doctor’s report,”

the echoes of her voice reaching the stars,

“For it is what I say and what I do!”


At the feet of the mountains in the Hex Vallei

and in the unspoilt walks of the Houwhoekpas,

(so goes the story of the indigenous ones),

roams the spirit of a woman brave in her heart

and when the earth goes dark with thunder and fear,

her voice lights up in the heavens,

“Hear not the call of the treacherous ones,

who sneak around and swindle your soul.

Listen to the beat of your heart –

hear the music, follow the sound

know, where your journey’s bound.


From: McGregor Poetry Festival 2014 Anthology

First published in 2015 by African Sun Press
in association with The McGregor Poetry Festival Committee
ISBN 978-0-620-64600-0

The Poet:


Diana Ferrus is a writer, poet, performance poet, story-teller, editor and publisher, best known for her epic poem about the Khoisan woman, Sarah Baartman, whose remains were on display in Paris until 1986. She is a founder member of the Afrikaanse Skrywersvereniging, Bush Poets and Women in Xchains. Her works, in both Afrikaans and English, have been published in various anthologies and a collection, Ons Komvandaan.






Previously published:

Diana Ferrus: I’ve come to take you home; Obsession; and The journey from her collection I’ve come to take you home.