Tuesday, 24 November 2015

The Ochre People by Christine Coates

The Ochre People

Christine Coates



Lying at the door,

outside near the pillar,

is a dead insect with long feelers.

Is this the dying time?

A small boy wees on the gravel road,

looks at me in glee.

The box elder, with green arms,

has listened to my sister stories for years;

my mother, in her oval frame,

looks at me from her short life.

I will take her to the Transkei

where a rusted cow stands on the beach,

a red rusted cow – a Qaba cow –

I will collect a teaspoon of red clay

and smear it on my face,

and I will bring her home.

A bull – his red eye –

is watching me.



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:



Christine Coates is a poet, writer and visual artist from Cape Town who spends many hours walking on the mountain or besides the sea. She has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Cape Town. She has an interest in life-writing or memoir, and the recovery of personal history through public and private imagery. She translated her great-grandfather's Boer War journals and presented them in parallel text as a handmade, leather-bound book. She has undertaken the 800km pilgrimage across Spain, on the Camino de Compostela three times. Her stories and poems have been published in various literary journals: New Contrast, New Coin, Deep Water Literary Journal, scrutiny2. Found Poem was a finalist in the Cambridge Conference of Contemporary Poetry Review 2002, Africa Focus. Her poems were selected for the EU Sol Plaatje Poetry Prize anthology in 2011 – 2014, Deep Water Literary Journal and scrutiny2, 2014. Her debut collection of poems, Homegrown, was published in 2014 by Modjaji Books. Her short story The Cat’s Wife was highly commended and published in ADULTS ONLY, (ed) Joanne Hichens, Mercury Books 2014. She has also written a cookbook; From the Heart; family, food and memory. Christine belongs to Finuala Dowling’s monthly poetry group and a women’s writing collaborative; The Grail Women Writers.