On my way to work In King William’s Town

A Poem

By Nomthandazo NXABELA


In the hustle of the morning
And the trying of this small town
I stride with a cool haste
Not to waken the sleeping bodies
They lay still
on their beds of pavement.
I try not to look
At the man
in his eyes
He says: “sisi”
And I skip along hurriedly
To avoid telling him lies.
“sorry bhuti, andinamali”

City centre reeks
Of old urine
And forgotten litter,
The fumes of cars
And fresh perfume-
Sprayed on stranger’s bras

I try not to lose hope
When a madman paces up and down
“Iyah yah!” He calls out
At cars swerving out of his way
As he dances in the streets of this forgotten town

“Ntsane, Ntsane!”
Say the hitch-hike men
“Mbono, Mbono!”
Cry the Millie mama’s
The Post office line like a snake curves round
And I know today we’ll be tavern bound.