Bessie Head

Self Portrait

A handwritten, unpublished poem by acclaimed South African poet and author Bessie Head, published by Rhodes University in 1996. This poem, dated July 1961, is one of Head's early and unedited work.

And, low down,
Indifferent earth worm;
Plunging, leaping,
Flickering, wavering,
Stammering, hesitating,
Bold, reckless, impatient;
Static, placid,
Of no certain direction,
Of certain direction;
Isolated, like driftwood
On the tossing, heaving ocean -
Flung to the top of a high-sounding,
Dazzling wave,
Engulfed in the anonymous depths;
Oh contradiction!
THAT is I.

Image: Alan Coulson.

This poem was originally published by Rhodes University in 1996. All rights of the publisher reserved.