Poems from missing (2010 Modjaji Books)

I'd like you to look at your x-rays


On the sixth floor we’re almost eye level
with three white clouds that have
strayed into the maze
of buildings around Wynberg Hospital.

They’ve no language for
where they’ve been left, lost
above the traffic
and hawkers selling fruit
and taxi drivers we can hear
even from behind the double-glazed windows
of the doctor’s room.

No one’s forced me here.
I’m free if I wish to catch
- for five rand only -
a ride to
Rondebosch
Claremont
Mowbray
or Cape Town Central Station.

If I wanted I could
take a train to the east coast
disembark at East London
hitch to Transkei.

I’m told long-horned Nguni cattle still bask
on the Wild Coast rocks and
get called back each evening
by barefoot boys in school uniform

I’ve seen for myself the clouds
that sprawl and slur untranslated
across that sky
beneath which poverty
and death
are quite unremarkable.


I'd like you to look at your x-rays