A prayer and a spell (for leaving Grahamstown)

When I was small

I drew a jug full of crystalline rainwater

and muttered a make-believe spell

an incantation:

an accidental blessing

for a feeble flower I had just planted

To make it grow strong

I called on the others

plucking a sprig of rosemary

for resilience

deep-blue lobelia for beauty

free of ostentation

alyssum for sweetness

and nasturtium

for fiery healing

imbuing my potion

with each plant’s gift

When I am ready to leave Grahamstown

I will weave another spell just like that one ‒

I will draw rainwater from my father’s house

adding a handful of jasmine from the house where I grew up

(abundant joy, boundless imagination)

and a crackly, pungent leaf from the lemon verbena that grows alone

on the corner of Donkin Street

for hard-won independence

I will find a ruffled dog-rose

growing on the overgrown terrace of Dr Van der Riet’s garden

(remembering always


a sense of place)

A fallen oak leaf from the 100-year old king

at no.26

shall mark history and time

before sneaking a pale yellow narcissus from Sally’s garden

for discovery


I will pluck

just one

red, bell-shaped blossom

from one of the Illawarra flame trees

that stand sentinel

round the corner from where I live

to show that like the Australian tree

on which it blooms

I loved it here

despite always feeling a little foreign

This spell shall be so strong

that the deceptively silken threads of this cocoon will unravel

and I can leave

One thought on “A prayer and a spell (for leaving Grahamstown)

  1. The problem with Grahamstown, is the spell it casts over you as a human being. That pure sense of utter belonging that you get as soon as you enter the city. A feeling that stays with you for the rest of your life. Thank you for this fragrant tour…..

    Liked by 1 person

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