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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