Robin Winckel-Mellish reconciles the muted tones of her Europe with the riotous colour of Africa. The immediacy, vividness and dustiness of the harsh African sun is carefully offset by the softer quality of the Netherlands. All poems are mediated and considered in the light of a spiritual home.
A Lioness at my Heels
The hemispheric pull between Europe and Africa and the restlessness that results from inhabiting both worlds is reflected in A Lioness at my Heels.
A Lioness at my Heels. There is something slightly unsettling about many of the poems in Winckel-Mellish’s first collection too. She often lulls you into expecting something lyrical, possibly a little sad but takes you suddenly on a different tack and into a harsh reality as with Kalahari Blue; “Outside the night sky begins its glitter, I fireflies have reached the Milky Way. Two frail sisters put on frocks, I carefully comb hair. They will sing the one song they are good at, I the only song they remember: Blue on blue, heartache on heartache . .. Somewhere in the shadow a hyena is laughing. Whoops as I she brings down an antelope, sings as she tears the flesh, finds the I chamber of its heart. Drags the carcass to her den like a sack of love.” There is an unexpected powerful image or question as in The Same Language, “Can you imagine, he said, what it would be like not to speak the same language as I your own children? I shivered. Had 1 been oblivious to mine?” The colours and vastness of South Africa are conveyed repeatedly in beautiful imagery. The Baker is a prose poem; “Sometimes he requires dozens of eggs. He looks away so that he can develop his sense of touch. He says he cannot stop the feeling and must follow. He says that when the sun is severed from the sky, light shines through fingers of moon.” InA Cup of Words, “hold a cup of words to the ear, I each wave pushes and pulls I resonates the tide coming in I as the sea soothes its song. I Play them a little, see how they sound, I unravel them gently then let them go.” In The leaf-rakers, “Out of nowhere they appear, I women the colour of autumn, I scraping the heels of moon-hills, I sweeping the bones of borders.” I loved the story in Anniversary Eggs, told in couplets, the reality of an over beaten sauce after the build-up of perfection the wife is striving to attain. The integrity of love.