My mother’s garments never seemed to grow old. Slack suits and twin sets from the seventies, woven from some synthetic substance that did not wear or tear, unlike the natural fibre of her skin. My aged mother’s delicate covering bled every time she stumbled. Worn out; worn to shreds. — "Going home", Disturbance, Dawn Garisch It has just gone six a.m. I walk my son down the road to the corner where we wait for his lift. The sun is rising, the light streaking the horizon gold. I comment on the morning buzz, the company we keep, power-walkers, the dog walkers, workers and school kids heading for the train. ‘The day carries on.’ Without you, the day must carry on. Al says, ‘Of course, but let me remind you that you’re wearing pyjamas.’ — Death and the After Parties, Joanne Hichens They fled with nothing, never stopping. Not even when his mother tripped, his sister, tied to her back, knocking her head so hard that a bump rose immediately. She had been crying, now she screamed. Yet still they ran, amid their own blood and spittle, as the black cloud of the burning valley hunted them, chasing them forward, forward, towards the blue sky. — An Island, Karen Jennings Now Shirley, you know, became a mother quite young – sixteen or something like that. She ran away from home with newborn Jason; his naeltjie at his belly hadn’t even fallen off yet. Came to Cape Town where she thought no one would find her. The Northern Cape was far. — "Homeful", Let It Fall Where It Will, Lester Walbrugh Lexi shrugged off her coat. She heard the rustle of beads as her mother, Sandra, came through the hippie curtain from the kitchen at the end of the long hallway. Like the town was bisected by a highway, so was their house by the passage. ‘I thought you would be asleep by now.’ Lexi feigned surprise. ‘I waited up. You’re my responsibility now.’ Her mother was in a kaftan, her hair long and loose. She looked like she’d escaped from the Mamas and the Papas. ‘Yay.’ The joys of being dumped and fleeced by her husband never ceased. — A Fractured Land, Melissa A. Volker I still remember my mother’s words when we got in the car to go to mass. ‘It’s Christmas, Mary, not a funeral.’ But I’ve always worn black. I would have said she was tempting providence, if that wasn’t exactly the sort of thing she would say. I should have, though. When we got home, a bunch of armed response cars were blocking the gates to the complex. The police were there. Men in bulletproof vests. Guns. — A Hibiscus Coast, Nick Mulgrew Not a word was exchanged between us as my mother and I made our way home. She must have seen how disappointed I was for, as soon as we walked into the house, she turned to me, demanding – ‘Where is the form?’ Puzzled, I looked at her. What use was that form now? What would she do with it? Only my father could sign it; and he had flatly refused, hadn’t he? ‘Give me the form, Thembi.’ ‘Why, Mama?’ ‘Letha, bo!’ My mother forged Baba’s signature. I applied for a passport, astounded by my mother’s actions. She had shown me a side of her I didn’t suspect existed. — Theatre Road, Sindiwe Magona The lagoon has forgotten us like a son sometimes forgets his father but never his mother — "Port is red and starboard green", For Everything That Is Pointless and Perfect, Stephen Symons But tell me this: where is his irrepressible, eternal soul? Because that is what interests me more. Where is his spirit, free of the gritty, grey residue of his body, which I have felt with my own hands? Because I, with the five senses of a woman, and undeniable sixth one 16 of a mother, cannot fathom the dimension within which my child now exists. — "Lost", Earth to Mom, Sue Brown
“A cow mooed and a dog barked, their voices travelling the still air from a distant hilltop. And the white tail of an airplane left a stripe on the baby-boy blue of the highest sky above.
Then pale rays warmed my back on the deck of the hut, steamed the acrid smoke smell from last night’s fire from my jersey, as I wrote of our own family’s catastrophe. Our own golden, unforgettable little prince, whose bold laughter rang out, whose tears fell and sadness echoed, and whose bravery inspired. Wrote our own tale of a visitation from an extraordinary small person. Of his lessons in great love and its loss, in loyalty and our limitations – and of being irrevocably changed by him.”
Sue Brown’s son died of cancer a few days after his thirteenth birthday, leaving behind a Craig-shaped crater in the lives of those who knew and loved him. Sue chronicled this unfamiliar, tragic landscape of diagnosis and grief in The Twinkling of an Eye: A Mother’s Journey. In Earth to Mom: Personal Essays on Loss & Love, a collection of poignant vignettes written since the publication of her memoir, Sue addresses her son, still the magnetic centre of her family’s world, and tells the story of how they continued reshaping their bonds and finding hope and light beyond the loss of their beloved son and brother.
Publication date: Autumn 2020
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
On New Year’s Eve of 2010, SUE BROWN’s twelve-year-old son, Craig, was diagnosed with a rare brain tumour. In the turmoil of the time, Sue instinctively turned her hand to writing. In 2017, six years after Craig had lost his battle with cancer, she published a memoir, The Twinkling of an Eye: A Mother’s Journey. She lives with her husband and their daughter in Cape Town. The family spends as much time as they can at Craig’s Cabin in Betty’s Bay. Sue continues to find hope and solace in the written word. Her new book, Earth to Mom: Personal Essays on Loss & Love, is a tribute to her son and the indelible mark he left on his family and friends.
So many women down the ages have lain awake in the earth’s great shadow, insomniac over their progeny, their sons and daughters intent on escaping their mothers’ intractable worry.
Don’t come, Kate is told by her only child. Jess is keeping her mother at a distance on the day that her own children, conjoined twins, are to be separated during high-risk surgery in London.
Kate wakes on her farm in the Eastern Cape, torn between respecting Jess’s wishes and a longing to rush to her estranged daughter’s side.
A former geneticist disillusioned by the pressing ethical questions posed by her job, Kate is now an award-winning maker of organic cheese. She relies on the farm’s routine and the people and animals in her life to hold steady as her day teeters on a knife’s edge.
Meanwhile, her employee Nosisi’s son is undergoing initiation. Forbidden to have contact with him during this traditional passage into the world of manhood, his mother anxiously awaits his return.
Breaking Milk, Dawn Garisch’s seventh novel, is an evocative exploration of the divisions and connections between humans, animals and the environment.
Publication date: 1 September 2019
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
DAWN GARISCH is the highly acclaimed author of a non-fiction work, a memoir and six novels, three of which were published in the UK. She has written for television and has had five of her plays and a short film produced.
Her poem Blood Delta won the DALRO Prize in 2007 for best poem, and Miracle won the EU Sol Plaatje Poetry Award in 2011. Difficult Gifts, her debut poetry collection, was published the same year. She also writes short stories and her What To Do About Ricky won the Short.Sharp.Story competition in 2013.
Dawn’s novel Trespass was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize in Africa in 2010, and Accident was longlisted for the Barry Ronge Sunday Times Fiction Prize in 2018.
She is part of the medical humanities movement and a founding member of the Life Righting Collective where she runs courses in memoir writing. Dawn is also a practising medical doctor and lives in Cape Town.
Breaking Milk, published by Karavan Press, is her seventh novel.
Author photograph by AJ Wattamaniuk.