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