Morning, under its wind-still, sun-gold halo.
Occasional only the frisson of a breeze
through a palm tree across the road,
the green oak, the break of red hibiscus
and the slow start of Saturday
humming in a car passing leisurely by.

Down the road gently rock at their moorings
the tugs at harbour.
Ships like play things
at anchor in the now gentle crook of the bay.
The sky blue as every one of its clichés.

Somewhere under this peaceable excess,
a woman wakes with bruised eyes
or ribs, split lips
or she doesn’t rise at all.

Somewhere in this city,
on this beautiful, god-forsaken morning,
in an alley or a backyard,
a dog twists in confusion
by the still form of its owner;

or in a plush lounge,
somewhere in this country
with its miracles and its wonders,
a woman will not rise
but lie slain – shot, hacked,
disembowelled by a lover,
a husband, a father or brother.

Soon, another one will fall.

Somewhere a girl-child,
a baby
who will withdraw forever from touch,
who will drown
in shame
in a sea never sought
nor comprehended
where words turn in on themselves
in the recursive savagery
of the unspeakable…

Politicians flap their arms, open and close their mouths,
launch campaign upon campaign
of empty gesture
then turn backstage
to fondle a comrade’s daughter
with whom just now they’ll lead the march.

Another march. Another speech.
By a brigadier or police commander
festooned with tin medals
invented for some moral war won only in their heads;
by community leaders agitating still
for their time at the trough;
by spin doctors and advertisers
crowd-sourcing and monetizing
petitions to end the violence;
by NGO and foundation heads on a break
from their 4×4 safaris to the organic market –

all come to be seen
mouthing dull platitudes
from which the sky recoils.


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