Durban, 1986

by Pam Newham

We trooped across the beach
that hot Durban night
with a bottle of wine, not the first,
and a thirst for adventure.
Something to mark the night.
Strangers caught together
in a beachfront hotel
after a seminar.

Who had the idea to dislodge it
from its lopsided authority?
That sign: Whites Only.
And so we wrested it from its place
embedded in dark sand
and hoisted it high and carried it,
a sort of slow march to the shore
and threw it into the sea.

It seemed defiant at the time,
even courageous.
But now I know it was not.
Compared to others
it was nothing.
A rusted sign thrown into the sea.

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