I must leave



Because of these times, I may have to leave Cape Town
But before that happens I'll be sure to write down
The things that live in my mind and live in my heart
About this city, this home, I'm about to depart.

The city-wise hustle of the street girls and boys;
The deep background roar of breakers' white noise,
The high wind-bourne "meow" of seagulls' chatter,
The rhythmic up-and-down of train-wheels' clatter.

Heavy resin seeping from summer-hot pines,
The pungent smell rising from kelp bleaching in lines,
The strong fragrance of coffee from cafes on the square,
Sun-lotion and salt from tanned skins, damp hair.

The dreamy champagne light of a still Cape evening,
And the pearl-white horizon when the sun is leaving,
Summer night-sky's dome of deep midnight blue,
And a light-wash of silver from the full moon in view.  

That hot dusty taste of the berg wind's burning,
(Hair in my face because the wind keeps turning!),
Still, dead-air days when smog smothers the city,
Then the wind's rise so welcome as it sweeps clean, so pretty.

What of Knysna, a place that makes my heart ache
With unexplained longing that I can't seem to shake,
Clouds of jasmine in Jo'burg at the start of spring each year,
The soft hills of Natal, then the Drakensberg, so austere.

I think I have to write of the people next,
Try to describe rainbows, turmoil in context -
Such a vista of goodwill, effort, talent and crime,
Forgiveness, stubborness and the healing of time

The patience and tolerance that suffering has taught us,
The joy of choice and freedom that democracy brought us.
Our story is farce, parable, romance and thriller -
We still breed some activists who are giant-killers.

The fine executives, leaders of all that they see,
Some brought there by mothers cleaning floors on their knees,
Sculpture, galleries, art found on roadsides anywhere -
Africa breeding artists out of her earth and her air.

Grim pockets of slum where hurt and crime breed
In virulent crucibles of bitterness and need,
The determination of the workless to make some kind of living,
And the swollen rich takers who think weakness = giving.

How many of the haters even notice these things,
Can remember the rhythm of a Ha-de-da's wings,
The dappled light of oak leaves on the back of your hand,
Or scrunching your toes in white beach sand?

Yet you will stay on here to hate out your days -
Despising it's story and people in so many ways,
Finding gaps to pay your workers less and less,
Or electronic means to leave them completely jobless.

And I will pack my hope, faith and love in a case,

And climb on a plane, tears streaming down my face

As I fly off, like a snowgoose, to the hard north

To try and make a life, to prove what I’m worth

owl joy


table mountain


6 thoughts on “I must leave

  1. There is a massive difference in changing homes because one wants to, or because one has to. In the former instance, fond memories are offset by the excitement of the new, wanted, experience. In the latter it can lead to a sorry state.

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