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July 01st 2008 print

Derek Fenton

Tshwala

It bore no resemblance
To the amber Castle
My father used to drink
Before going on to scotch;
Plopping ice into crystal tumblers
Cleaned and prepared by Dabson
The cook boy:
Delivered diligently
As soon as he heard
The car’s hooter
And the gate
Squeak open obsequiously.
Town, the garden boy,
Twenty something old
And younger than Dabson
By twenty five
Locked the working day out
With wire over a gate-post
And a bow to the baas.
The day done
Retired to the back step
For a tin of tea and a doorstep
Of white bread and jam

We kids still in the bush
A few miles away
Tracking the duiker
Supposed to still live that close to town
Chanced upon a forty-four gallon drum
Of “kaffir beer”:
“Sis, it smells!”
We rocked it off its brick base
And guffawed as a Sunday party
Flowed down a path fashioned by bare feet.

Dabson will not be able to afford
The mukiwa’s Castle or Lion beer,
And the few tots of scotch
He pilfered
Will not get him drunk enough
To shut out his life for the day.

There will be silence
From the bush this weekend!

tshwala = beer
mukiwa = white man