“The intricacy of a body in the dark” – a new poem by Stephen Symons

The intricacy of a body in the dark

These are the days of the clouds 
and colours of his childhood,
of the secrets of forgotten garages 
with unwilling doors 
and small-paned windows,
of the mysteries of broken glass, rust 
and enigmas of dust,

And of the sides of houses too, 
of shadows leopard-crawling over mossed brick, 
and cool green thoughts and concrete
crumbling to nothingness at the edge 
of tired swimming pools 
spun with holiday light.

The intricacy of a body in the dark, 
how it reminds him of a life 
lived a lifetime away, where memory 
tastes of salted skin 
after a day at a beach,
part sunlight, part ocean, 
and at the tip of its tongue
the bitterness of its end.

He stands, looking out at the waves 
and last scraps of surfers, 
imagining someone else watching him 
flared against sky leaking into cobalt.

He has been turning 
a perfectly good key in a lock
over and over his whole life 
but the door remains locked.

He imagines she stands behind the door
brushing the years between them from her hair. 

Now everything is silent and made of first light, 
except for the sound of that key turning helplessly
and the distant keening of gulls.

— Stephen Symons

Karavan Press title: FOR EVERYTHING THAT IS POINTLESS AND PERFECT by Stephen Symons

“Stephen Symons’s new collection is engineered for flight, gliding its way between the heavy and the weightless, memory and forgetting. It is a self-proclaimed ‘language of feathers’ that makes this flight possible, a spiritual athleticism that brings to mind George Herbert, whose idea was that the ‘fall furthers the flight in me.’ Symons’s skill is in creating a fathomable sphere for the dimensions of war, contextualizing the enormous facts with small detail, whether referencing Amichai’s ‘diameters of bombs/and sadness of open closets’ or exploring the weightless dross of childhood in the beautiful piece ‘My son was conscripted.’ Symons creates an epicentre of violence by means of an exquisite prose poem sequence that reverberates even to the quietest poems in the book. But the work, as in all of Symons’s poetry, keeps thrusting us back into the present with all its perfect natural math as counter to aftermath: a child’s laughter; sunlight trickling over mossed stones; a ballet of cormorants. This is a beautiful book by one of South Africa’s most tender poets of witness.”

— David Keplinger, author of Another City (Milkweed Editions, 2018), and The Long Answer: New and Selected Poems (Stephen F. Austin University Press, 2020)

ISBN: 978-1-990992-56-8

Publication date: 9 November 2020.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

STEPHEN SYMONS has published poetry and short-fiction in journals, magazines and anthologies, locally and internationally. His debut collection, Questions for the Sea (uHlanga, 2016) received an honourable mention for the 2017 Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry, and was also shortlisted for the 2017 Ingrid Jonker Prize. His unpublished collection Spioenkop was a semi-finalist for the Hudson Prize for Poetry (USA) in 2015. His second collection, Landscapes of Light and Loss, was published by Dryad Press in 2018.

Symons holds a PhD in History (University of Pretoria) and an MA in Creative Writing (University of Cape Town). He lives with his family in Oranjezicht, Cape Town.

Author photograph by Carol Bradley.

Karavan Press to publish first poetry collection: FOR EVERYTHING THAT IS POINTLESS AND PERFECT by STEPHEN SYMONS

It is with delight that I share the news of Karavan Press’s first poetry collection: FOR EVERYTHING THAT IS POINTLESS AND PERFECT by Stephen Symons. As designer/typesetter, Stephen has been part of the Karavan Press family since the very beginning. It is wonderful to welcome him to the press as an author! Next year, we will also be publishing Stephen’s debut collection of short stories. But first: the poetry!

“Stephen Symons’s new collection is engineered for flight, gliding its way between the heavy and the weightless, memory and forgetting. It is a self-proclaimed ‘language of feathers’ that makes this flight possible, a spiritual athleticism that brings to mind George Herbert, whose idea was that the ‘fall furthers the flight in me.’ Symons’s skill is in creating a fathomable sphere for the dimensions of war, contextualizing the enormous facts with small detail, whether referencing Amichai’s ‘diameters of bombs/and sadness of open closets’ or exploring the weightless dross of childhood in the beautiful piece ‘My son was conscripted.’ Symons creates an epicentre of violence by means of an exquisite prose poem sequence that reverberates even to the quietest poems in the book. But the work, as in all of Symons’s poetry, keeps thrusting us back into the present with all its perfect natural math as counter to aftermath: a child’s laughter; sunlight trickling over mossed stones; a ballet of cormorants. This is a beautiful book by one of South Africa’s most tender poets of witness.”

— David Keplinger, author of Another City (Milkweed Editions, 2018), and The Long Answer: New and Selected Poems (Stephen F. Austin University Press, 2020)

FOR EVERYTHING THAT IS POINTLESS AND PERFECT by Stephen Symons will be published in November 2020.

Stephen Symons has published poetry and short-fiction in journals, magazines and anthologies, locally and internationally. His debut collection, Questions for the Sea (uHlanga, 2016) received an honourable mention for the 2017 Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry, and was also shortlisted for the 2017 Ingrid Jonker Prize. His unpublished collection Spioenkop was a semi-finalist for the Hudson Prize for Poetry (USA) in 2015. His second collection, Landscapes of Light and Loss, was published by Dryad Press in 2018.

Symons holds a PhD in History (University of Pretoria) and an MA in Creative Writing (University of Cape Town). He lives with his family in Oranjezicht, Cape Town.