Coming Home to Tea

A Heuglin’s robin flying low salutes

us as we cycle up the driveway, home.

The dogs pretend to sleep, but cock their ears

and thump their tails. One cat is on the roof,

another stalks the shadow of a cloud.

The rooster flaps his wings as if to say,

“You’re welcome, but remember who’s in charge!”

And smell that blossom! Is it marigold?

The crested barbet’s clock alarm goes off

and wakes a bloukop basking in the sun.

A drongo taunts a hoopoe, steals its worm,

dive bombs the sprinkler, terrifies the cat

on the warm tin roof. From the kitchen comes

the smell of biscuits baking. Cinnamon

is in the air, and ginger, nutmeg, cloves;

and listen to that kettle singing: “Tea!”

Beyond the picket, mothers thin as sticks,

unreflecting eyes, aphonic babies,

all but empty plastic bags; and fathers

ashen, no longer grim, no longer keen

for work or football; only the half-jack

half concealed; and children kicking at stones,

chewing grass, briefly looking up as they

catch the scent of spicy biscuits and tea.

Leave a Reply