albertus street

a bird’s call smacks

against periwinkle sky.

here, where it is always summer

through grated windows

their voices crack

against the white-walled cages

of trucks rolling up

for the morning drop-off

a man’s fingers cling

defiantly to that wire.

here, where it is never summer

sun prances between leaves

to scrawl shadows on listening tar

wailing sirens pierce

the serene canopy of trees

calling gates to open and swallow trucks whole

justice is a quiet cul de sac,

a black cloak on broad shoulders billowing

in the wind.

on the corner she stands

mother, girlfriend, wife

her cigarette smoke wafting

through and over the street names above

and behind her, the black fence

she will later scale with her voice

her urgent words will spiral

against red-brick wall

from inside the wall

a muffled reply will find its way

through the barred windows

and cause a smile to fall into her voice

so they spill private lives onto a public street

that only the tar will hear and remember

stories that will wait to cling

to your limbs and leave here

with your walking

a bird’s call smacks

against periwinkle sky.

here, it is always summer

a mother’s hands tremble

in the basket of her lap

here, it is never summer

not today. he won’t be coming home today

first published in The Sol Plaatjie European Union Poetry Anthology Volume 3 (Jacana Media, 2013), © Toni Stuart 2013, used by permission of the author.

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