The future wants to show its blurred, ideal face,

though all the maps where it can materialize

are full of holes. Here be monsters. Close by

the tide’s fetch lessens, though waves rutch up

and flip the sun’s image into a twinkling coinage.

All our boats are out to sea. Excuse Me, Captain!

Captain? He makes a beeline towards my pity

while his friend upends their shared papsak

for a final drop. Young enough to be his daughter,

the teenager who walks after me, crooning a song,

holds out a dusty flail of proteas. She can still smile

yet may not have the best intentions, eyes occluded

into tik. Three gym-raddled women break off

their conversation to peer out at our slow passage

above the rims of cappuccinos. Their mouths

open like fish, in unison, then close again

– here there’s not much for diversion. Shop windows

no longer reflect whom we may want to be: are just

dark caves of clutter. Frayed postcards. Scrimshaw.

T-shirts to proudly proclaim a wearer ‘Native’.

On the beach the hulk they burned the dealers out of

rots on the sand. It’s too far for any surge to reach

and bottlenecks wait in ambush for my bare feet.

A world where opposites blur and coalesce –

on one side of the road a Cuban restaurant and flag,

on the other streamers that proclaim the sang froid

of estate agents. Even the afternoon’s beclouded:

bladderwrack, and kids in wetsuits bob in a surf

scrabbling to stay near shore with soaked, white fingers.

To be honest, nothing really shifts or changes.

Loud hunger tears forever at the throats of gulls.

Tourists renew their pilgrimages in summer

while workaday the world falls from us. Who we are

is bitten, from teeth chipped and yellowed that

have nibbled around too many spoons. Each year

it’s harder to move past incrustations of habit –

“…but after all” I say to the Congolese professor

reduced to touting parking spots for tips,

“it should be clear to us that when Fanon says…”

then I find that he’s no longer listening.

uncollected poem, © Kelwyn Sole 2015, used by permission of the author

Kelwyn Sole in the Poetry Store

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