Last day in June

The first light of the last day in June has begun
to fill the place, the trees still dark outlines,
bird song the soundtrack on the back of thoughts
stuck on a theme like a grand loop at a play fair.

I remember it is a turning towards and not away
that is best. Here I can drop into my body, that I am
not all brain, mind, thoughts.

I am feeling, I am taste, I am smell,
I am touch. I am hearing.

It’s a settling into a mystery my ancient grandmothers
understood as they stirred in the first light
of a morning sometime in June. It seems faraway.

Until I remember other births.

© 2021 Copyright Rick Frame

Little green apples

I had those a Trade Fair legs – not too dissimilar to museum legs. Don’t get me wrong. I do love a Uffizi tour or a Flanders Field. Traipsing around, endlessly looking at stuff at the age of 14 made little sense and you know what – I confess – I can’t remember any of it. Except one thing. The radio studio.

It was, I think, 1970 and the national radio station played lunchtime music after the news. It was being broadcast from the studio at the fair. A large window meant that we had a grand view of the presenter’s desk, the turntables and the microphone.

A look of wonder overcame the man at the mic as he announced Little Green Apples. He waxed lyrical about how much he loved that song. Why do I remember this and not the rest? I was simply obsessed with the idea of radio, so much so I wrote to the ‘Little Green Apples’ man who was in charge of the local station (and who fortuitously knew my dad) and asked him for a tour of the main studio, a few miles away. I got my wish.

Afterwards I wrote a letter and asked him if there were any vacancies. He told me to come back when I was 18. Four years later I never did. Circumstances changed. I had one go on Capital 604 in Durban but never pursued it. Now, retired, I have really gone for it and will, after some training, get that big chance to do something I have always wanted to do.

Served hot

The heat of the African sun
in the high noon. We were all of fourteen
camping at Maleme – we stooped to touch
the road’s fine sand. Like time, it slipped
through our hands. We imagined a beach
far away from the sea. A passerby gave

The mystery we bumped into, the not knowing
was a kind of awakening – we did not know it then.
The wild shout, baboons from high up
in the scrub of the rocks, a conversation
that only they knew. Ours not dissimilar,
wild and carefree. We had walked
the five miles for a coke, the disappointment.
The general dealer served them
hot like the sun.

© 2021 Copyright Rick Frame

Maleme Dam is situated in the Matobo Hills, south of Bulawayo.

Novel writing

Putting the finishing touches to a novel entitled ‘Inescapable’ and wondering where and what next as this is a new venture for me.

Synopsis: Inescapable

The novel is set in numerous places in Africa, seen from the vantage point of the Sunshine Coast on the South Coast of England. It covers, in looking back, thirteen significant years up to Zimbabwean independence in 1980, but also contemporaneously is positioned in the five years from the EU referendum in 2016 to the Coronavirus Pandemic.

The protagonist is the son of a British settler father and a British mother. The family start out in Kenya and wend their way southwards in the face of the Wind of Change of the 1960s and decolonisation to South Africa and then white supremacist Rhodesia, the renegade British colony led by the demagogue, Ian Smith.

The story centres on the rising awareness of Harry whose story this is. This is about history and politics, the beginning of his own decolonisation, but it is also about a spiritual awakening still in progress. It is about a time lost, a footnote in late Empire and a forgotten war. Harry tries to make sense of it all. It is not a nostalgic account of the past, although the love for and beauty of Africa is very much at its heart.

The plot centres on two families, Harry and his parents and siblings and then Harry, married and their two grown up children. The voices in the story come from various sources with the characters, the narrator’s and morning muses playing a crucial part in the development.

This is the first of two parts.

Matobo Hills

Very excited to see people from all over the world who drop into my blog. Delighted to see too that someone came by from Zimbabwe, a place very close to my heart. I am republishing this from the 14th of March.

Dropping into the body is not all that easy.
Here, all the squelchy messiness,
the uptightness, often snagged.
Here, we run into the future and
the past’s brick wall.

I want to be on the road that travels
into the Matobo Hills, that narrows
into the tarmac strip,

to find a place to be

To sit with the boulders, unmoved forever,
only weathered. Trees resting in the sun,
listening, curious.

A place where we can ride discomfort,
finding balance, like the granite rocks squatting,

and ever so exquisitely be at ease.

(Slightly amended 15.03.21)

The Matobo Hills lie to the south of Bulawayo. It teems with balancing rocks that have been there since before the ancestors roamed. As children we often visited and whilst, at the time, I appreciated the place enormously, my older self is drawn back to its beauty and the chance to meditate on how the wildness brings alive things arising, passing away.

The power of this

The breeze, hardly noticed,
quietly, imperceptibly filling
footprints of sand. Our path
gone, no trace from whence
we had come.

Into the coming darkness,
a distant light
we could not see,
directions of travel lost.
There was only —

We stopped, a realisation.
Nothing else.
Just this.

© 2021 Copyright Rick Frame

Inspired by a talk given by the Zen teacher, Henry Shukman. He was talking about his journey through the Sahara Desert.

As it is

It is not their fault
they never knew but
these days I am struck by
how uncurious they were.

What it was like.
How it took over and did harm.

That our friendship meant nothing.
That they passed judgement with
a standard that they would not
hold themselves to.

They cast the first stone and I returned a few.
I know that now and draw a line underneath it all,
moving on, letting go – no longer looking
for fish tracks in a dry riverbed*.

Too often, the wave of the past
had pulled me under, finding
myself without a life jacket^.

I tell myself to allow the experience
to sit still, as it is, knowing it is not possible
to make a hole in wet mud.

© 2021 Copyright Rick Frame

* Wu-Tzu

^ Inspired by a talk from Kaira Jewel Lingo who used this metaphor