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.


Third Beach, Port St Johns

by Pam Newham

Like smoke but cold around us.
Hauling beach trappings and children
we walk into it.
No sea although through
the white a sound like waves.

After a while it lifts and we see
shapes, faint at first,
familiar and impossible.
Such solid ghosts these.

They watch us with unbaffled eyes
as if we with spades and buckets
and beach towels are out of place
Come to lick the salt.

Later we swim
naked as seals.

Noordhoek Beach

Noordhoek Beach by Angela Prew

A soft Autumn Sunday
no wind to whirl the sand,
stinging, against our legs, a day for dog walks and dogs there are,
big dogs,
small, yappy dogs,
guard dogs and lap dogs
walking their owners briskly over the sand.
Away towards Kommetjie
a knot of horses walk
at their riders’ pace
itching for a gallop. On the breaking waves
surfers, wet-suited, ride.
And you and I
chatting idly
enjoy the gentle sun
and the freedom,
after so many weeks,
so many relatives,
to be ourselves.