Archive for the 'childhood' Category

School holidays

Just after dawn
while the sun is still a red ball
and the ground mist rises
from the veld

we make a fire
and brew coffee
in a tin can with a wire handle.
Milk, sugar and Ricoffy,
stolen from the kitchen.

We squat in the dust
and warm our hands
at the embers
wait for it to boil.

The coffee tastes of smoke,
promises aardvark dens,
snake hunts, paper thorns,
stubbed toes and squabbles.

The problem with Dave

is that he doesn’t like surprises,
needs to practise his conversations
so as not to be left bereft of words.
Small talk is easier now,
he’s thirteen and knows
a series of phrases
repeated in the right order.

His words are not filed like yours and mine,
conveniently grouped by subject,
but clumped together in a sticky mass.
He has to search for each elusive one,
has learned to say,
“I’m going to change the subject”
before he talks.

But I have seen him, seated in the train
winking at pretty girls
raising his ginger eyebrows
and smiling, his rosy lips a perfect curve.
I have seen him in the waves, surfing,
laughing ’til his breath runs out,
and I have watched him
talking to his striped cat
with his hands
on the windowsill in the sun.


July 2017
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