Paradise Road

Come with me down Paradise Road 

this way please, I'll carry your load 

this you won't believe 


Joy's hope for tomorrow blares 

from a car radio on the day they meet. 

it is the middle of October 

in a spring that calls bare arms 

to peek through sleeveless dresses, 

as curly hair, straightened, 

fights the Cape humidity to stay alive 


in the front of his Peugeot 404, they sit 

ready to embark on that beloved Cape Flats tradition: 

the car rally. he drives -just like he does now- 

and from the navigator's seat, 

she thrusts handfuls of redskin peanuts his way: 

an order he willingly accepts, 

neither of them aware of the daily ritual 

this simple act would become 

religiously, tenderly carried out over three decades later 


in the back seat, legs stick to leather under heat's duress, 

their matchmakers sing along with the radio 

“Come with me down P?rrredise Rrrroad” 

voices enlivened with drunken conviction 

in a moment that would later turn into folklore 

a story tirelessly retold at birthday parties, 

Christmas lunches and funerals 


five October's later 

outside, the heat of a different spring rages 

inside, their son's crying is the new song 

that foretells of brighter days ahead 


but as they stand at the hospital window, 

they watch as in the distance 

smoke ascends from the streets they call home 

a Greek tragedy re-staged in the theatre of a public street 

          where a railway delivery truck is the wooden horse 

          defence force police play the Greek soldiers 

          and Athlone residents play the unsuspecting Trojans 

turning ancient myth into present-day massacre 


a single column of smoke signals their son's birth 


There are better days before us, 

And a burning bridge behind, 

fire smoking, the sky is blazing 

There's a woman waiting weeping 

and a young man nearly beaten all for love 


Joy's words echo in their unspeaking 

and music cries the tears my parents cannot 


Paradise was almost closing down

Unpublished poem, ? Toni Stuart 2017, used by permission of the author.

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