Carina Stander – vertaling in Engels

Carina Stander – vertaal deur/translated by Leon de Kock


Carina Stander

Carina Stander

Carina Stander was born on 20 November 1976. She grew up on a farm in the Waterberg. After obtaining an honours degree in Fine Arts from the University of Pretoria, she worked for a few years for sculptors in Cambridge and the Scottish Highlands and participated in various art exhibitions. She completed a masters degree in Creative Writing (cum laude) through the University of Cape Town. She had two volumes of poetry published by Tafelberg: die vloedbos sal weer vlieg (2006) and woud van nege en negentig vlerke (2009). A number of these poems have been set to music by Herman van den Berg, Souldada from the Netherlands and cellist Ha!Man. Stander’s poems and short stories are prescribed for secondary schools. Since 2005 she has been working as a freelance journalist for five magazines, twice receiving the Media24 award for Article Writer of the Year at Lééf. She lives in a coastal forest with her husband and sons.



The pyjama pants


by the time we get home the blood on your pyjama pants has dried

but, like wounds, the windows are sticky and slimy;

brutality hovers like a wolf

in our house

its aftertaste

revealed in the darkening dusk –

these walls will surely collapse

under the weight, the memory of our honeymoon

in Mozambique:


it must be said you did not then want me to bleed –

the hand-stitched seam of your pyjama pants

bulging giddy white

like a year-old lamb


that’s how I want to remember you:

standing like that in the door of the hut

with the cloth of Bazaruto around your hips

as you stretch your arms upwards,

your shoulders the colour of dunes

your supple back compelling me to write


but now death has broken through our front door

now your pyjama pants are bloodied like a virgin

and to expel this fog of fear

won’t be easy;

that iron smell, the sweat of terror

that sound of a coming death


look, the jackals crossing the hills

are changing into street curs

now they’re crawling into anteater-holes

they eat bird-eggs and buck;

there was even a flamingo-wing

somewhere in the fog


cowardly foxes running off, tails between their legs

greedy hyena-chops, drunk with blood


there is a beauty that the pack

will never take from us:

even if they were to catch you

you would send a bushbuck to console me

or a steenbuck with little Bambi-feet

or a waterbuck grazing in the evening air

on berrybush and wild fig


but you have not been taken away

you are here in flesh and blood

your swimming body rimples the island seam

you laugh at the lourie

who lives in my armpits –

I am just crazy for you


tonight we’ll leave the front door open

and light up some lamps;

you go fetch your pyjama pants from the chest;

beneath my night dress, like fish

my breasts are swimming –

you stroll freely

through the acres of my sleep


mercy falls to the earth like a poem

because you are here you are here


listen how our fears

slumber on the windowsill


(From: die vloedbos sal weer vlieg, Tafelberg, 2006)

(Tr. by Leon de Kock)



the hot berg wind of your name



the hot berg wind of your name

echoes across the coastal forest

of the south


while the forlorn plantation

in the valley

prunes its hanging moss,

you blow through the gnarled

bush of a white milkwood


you let fruit rain down upon me

in splashes of dark purple;

you caress the yellow-wood’s flaky bark

and you feed the bats yellow fruit                       

from the highest branches


sometimes you’re everywhere and here

you wind-whirl me like a man;

you lean against the carbuncled stem

of a wild red currant, you stare at me;    

the veins on your arms

expand like roots through earth;

your skeleton shifts in the wind

like the threaded stem of a forest elder

my cheeks turn to the colours

of clattering stones

on an unknown beach;

lilac or off-pink

like the eyes of a cave-fish


still, you go out and bring me

finest cream flowers in winter

and the winged seeds of a kamassie¹;

our bed is knitted

from the secret leaves of a birch


come, let us walk on naked feet

through the dripping forest,

let us go see, at daybreak,

how the waves spray wild lace              

up against the horizon

where you can almost hear whales mating

in the filmy blue expanse

of the ocean


that is where I shall give you my version of love


(From: die vloedbos sal weer vlieg, Tafelberg, 2006)

(Tr. by Leon de Kock)




Bergfontein, Limpopo 1968


at the age of 32 ma granted love

like the gift of a story-book

to pa


she slept beneath scorpions,

other constellations too


one at a time, leopards

spotted along their flanks

with shapes like roses

prowl the night kraal                                    

cracking calves’ skulls –

pa travelled two hundred miles to fetch them

on horseback, grazing as they went


a rifle cracks and a hoarse cry

expires on the mountain –

ma inherits two cubs

from the belly of a predator


the house is rough and ready

and any tree a lavatory

but at night

by candlelight

she marks essays

in Afrikaans and German

in a kitchen of stars

nurses poems like chicks

in crocheted blankets


they use her teacher money

to plaster up a fireplace

from slate floor to wooden roof


and still the wild evades their embrace


beneath the farm-line phone

a black mamba lies hissing

atop her eggs:

upper body erect

mouth stretched wide open

head long and flat

like a coffin


ma writes letters to her mother:

cubs geckos

and lizard plus mate

rest up on the afternoon stoep

huddling tighter at her feet


eight years later a child is born

from the words of a ma

and the wildness of a pa


(From: woud van nege en negentig vlerke, Tafelberg, 2009)

(Tr. by Leon de Kock)



messages from above
Giant Forest, California


through my fingers snow sifts in ornate handwriting

under my boots snow cracks a code

over a waterfall snow screams soundlessly


white poems on blank paper, everywhere


here, where prairie wolves loom

and squirrels drive each other away

through a dead-quiet oak forest

– tree-branches like flamboyant frills          

on a gypsy’s dress –


here, spoor² is the voice of an animal          


when I touched the giant sequoia,

felt like braille its brown, rutted trunk,

flakes like blossoms fell

fell from this deserted cathedral

strings blow like sentences from Above – 

red-hot murmurs, plosive-soft


every story begins with these words:

a Stranger’s wooden leg

makes mad marks in the snow


everywhere, white poems on blank paper 


(From: woud van nege en negentig vlerke, Tafelberg, 2009)

(Tr. by Leon de Kock)



¹ Kamassie: Gonioma kamassi. In Tsitsikamma area, Southern – Cape, SA.

² Spoor: trace, track, footprint, footmark. From :Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.




Leon de Kock is a writer, translator and scholar. He has published three volumes of poetry in English (Bloodsong, 1997, gone to the edges, 2006, and Bodyhood, 2010), a novel and several works of literary translation, including the novel Triomf by Marlene van Niekerk and a collection of poems, Intimately Absent (Intieme Afwesige) by Cas Vos. Translations of Etienne van  Heerden’s novel, In Stede van die Liefde, and Vos’s Duskant die Donker (Before it Darkens; selected poems). De Kock holds a chair of English at the University of Stellenbosch. He has won several prizes for his translations.


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