no your body is no prison

Padmapani, Breyten Breytenbach

No your body is no prison
your understanding has petals
sweeter than moonlight
your hair is a secret
black wave
a banner against the light
two butterflies have settled
on the twigs above your nose
if only to upset my pen
and each ear is a beach
against the wash of tides
your eyes are two shelters in the desert
two tents with brilliant peacocks
and my eyelashes lament on your shoulders
your back is a glistening lance in water
and soon after dusk your small dunes
rose from my palms
your heart moves with the quick
soundlessness of chewing peanuts
your hands are tom thumb
and all his brownish friends
where your thighs meet your belly
struts a small proud plume
o hail to the jewel in the lotus
how sweet it must be
to dive upwards
into that nothingness
no your body is no prison

(translated by André Brink)

(South Africa)

The Poetry of Our World: An International Anthology of Contemporary Poetry (2000)

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