Academic journal article Hecate

Glass Woman, Owl House

Academic journal article Hecate

Glass Woman, Owl House

Article excerpt

(on Helen Martins, Outsider artist, South Africa)

Nieu Bethesda. In this desert village

springwater channels square through rock

and white patterned lives, relegating black

to oblique dry seams and shadows;

a chiaroscuro geometry no southern sun

can compromise. But an outlander

brings fractured colour. She will cross

a boundary and risk the wellspring dying.

The dream is eccentricity in slow

sure progress. Barriers erected,

blinds drawn, each pane of light adheres

another glassy layer. Double vision;

pure opaque colour against the white

Karoo glare, fencing in seclusion,

endeavour, the uncorrupted shards

of difference, and barb edged humour.

Shadowy lust. Gleaming jars conserve

crystalline harvests, strange sharp

fruits colour serried ranks on slatted

wooden shelves; damson and greengage plum,

clemantine, apricot, creamy apple, peach.

Heart red grape. The soft slump of stewing

surrogated by jagged ground-glass velvet

and the grinding power of Spong.

A prodigal palette preserved against

dire future when strength and will fail.

Owl woman, family in the yard, glass encrusted,

statue stiff and dedicated. Blind headlight eyes

rake heaven for respite and recognition (rare

as the soulsong ring of finest glass). But with skies

obscure, shards of self doubt pierce the heart.

Glass stigmata and shattered desire, grist

of a lifetime on the fringe. Cracks appear

and eggshell craze an essence too brittle to prevail.

The desert presses blind like thumbballs on glass eyes,

and age is a sentence writ in wire. At end we crave

acknowledgement. If the world won't see,

our own bodies must be fecund bearers, and spawn

the beauty of creation. But with one glass not yet full

and one reflecting ultimate betrayal, her last recourse

is to be ground too. …

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