Excavate: Christine Coates


I’m looking in the world for words today—
    ‘dimpled’, ‘dashed’ and ‘danger’;
I’m looking for words as tough as rock—
    ‘marriage’, ‘tattoo’ and ‘mother’.

My skin sloughs DNA shreds like cotton—
     words like ‘sorry’ and ‘repentance’, 
but I want my words more rough and ready—
     ‘quartz’, and ‘crack’ and ‘crevice’.

I’ve replaced myself several times—
      longing for words like ‘tender’ and ‘desire’.
There are names inked on my shoulder—
           ‘soft’, ‘stone’ and ‘fire’.


To read this and more work by Christine Coates, order a copy of the drr issue of Ritual.

Christine Coates, a South African poet and writer, holds an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Cape Town. Her poems and stories have been published in various local and international literary journals. She has three collections of poetry; Homegrown 2014, Damselfly 2019 Modjaji Books, and Fire Drought Water, Damselfly Press, 2018. A new collection is forthcoming. Her debut collection Homegrown received an honourable mention from the Glenna Luschei Prize. 


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