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Three PoemsSelima Hill
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I have never been to Africa

I have never been to Africa –
I’ve only seen it from an aeroplane
and longed to go there –
it looked like a giant peach, half-asleep,
gracefully draped in a dried civet-cat skin
someone had sewn bells and teeth onto,
and small figures made of ivory
that carry miniature gongs and miniature hoes –

so no, I’ve never been to Africa,
and now I just find it embarrassing

to remember sitting in your car
reading MAIN BEAM MAIN BEAM
over and over again, or not even reading it,
but sitting in front of it,
imagining bream, and roach,
flapping lugubriously around our ears
as the car fills up with water;
to remember sitting in your car
trying to impress you
with stories of my travels
that couldn’t possibly have been true,
and the car piled high with boxes of shopping,
of hats and coats,
of slinky satin shirts;
boxes of ants
to feed the googling bream.

The Hunting-Lodge

I repeatedly recall the words
he spoke that night
after our nocturnal walk together.
We had been staying for a few days
in his hunting-lodge
in Balderschwang.
He told me many stories
of his conquests of women.

His stocks were inexhaustible,
and I was young.
And all the time I was thinking
Someone will come.
Someone will come trotting over the hills
with sleigh-bells jingling
and take me away
from all this ...

But as the snow continued to fall,
and his stories grew more and more fantastic,
I was the first to give way.
It was early morning
when I kissed him –
using my tongue like a fish
an unhurried woman might slide alluringly
from its temporary resting-place in her vagina.

Perth

And she was standing there
about as close as I am to you.
She was like a cross between a woolly monkey
and a gypsy queen!
I loved her at once.
Then Marion appeared,
and I put my finger to my lips, and smiled ...
The night before,
the stars were so clear

it was as if they were trying to tell me something.
It made me feel strange,
and I woke up the others.
Only Marion responded.
She had stepped out of her little tent in her nightie.
and hit me on the head
with a Complete Taxonomy of the Kangaroo
she was holding like a tray
in both hands.

You ask me if I get on with women.
My answer is Yes –
so long as they are dressed in velvet
kangaroo suits
and disappear into the bush
the minute they are told to.
Perth was the nearest town,
but that was a good six hundred miles away
by ute.

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