by Elaine Edwards
Western Suburbs – July
My hand goes to my eyes to wipe away the soot
from veld fires whose acrid smoke has smeared the sky.
The black ground still smolders.
Protestors from Zandspruit are throwing stones
on Beyers Naude.
To reach Pretoria – no – Tshwane
we must drive along Christiaan de Wet,
avoid Hans Schoeman
and get onto Hendrik Potgieter.
The traffic facing us will not reach Sandton Randburg Kempton Park Bedford View Jozi Central in time for any vital meeting today.
Little boxes line the highway
(all made of ticky tacky
in the Tuscan style.)
Magnificent entrance pillars proclaim
Barren veld stretches towards Little Falls.
Jozi, you are dry like death.
But listen when I tell you my friends,
my friends in Jozi
have smiles like the morning sun
and there’s fun in parties and Denise’s vegetable garden
on the pavement
supplies moroko, spinach, radishes, granadillas, and rhubarb
and no one takes it all
and everyone leaves some
for their brothers and their sisters.
And when Rob confronts seven burglars in his home
and is shot
Jan is never alone
has food and transport and child minding
and everyone murmurs, “He’s going to be OK. He’s lucky.”
And even though the toll road and the electricity (lack of)
and the pot holes and freezing bloody winter
are mentioned, it’s all forgotten
over the bottle of good red we open
next to Richard’s fiery hearth
and we laugh till we’re sick remembering the story