A Dying Love Affair

It was like quince preserve, this honeyed astringency on

revisiting the byways of my youth with their sweet summers

and sporadic droughts, bare-footed children whipping tops

with strings and spittle, yellow mine dumps everywhere

looking down, flat topped with lust and greed, on sweat and

pay envelopes with their promise of sour mash beer and

back yard bedmates.

 

I’d paid my dues to Suid-Afrika more than once; this time to

Livingstone Laka by twice in a row advancing him fifty Rand,

which he had every intention of paying off, until drunk on

cane liquor from a paper bag he cut two fingers off his left hand

with the workshop bandsaw, wrapped them in toilet paper before

passing out in the ambulance.

 

“Of course I wrote his debt off”, I told her, a nightgowned

private investigator as she parted the curtains to view the

servant’s quarters. “He’s back again”, she hissed, “after

I explicitly told her no more visitors – and with a paper bag again.

In the morning they both must leave.

 

“But she’s pregnant”, I said, “please let her stay, her sister will look after the baby”.

 

This sweet astringency as the aircraft lifted one last time over

the trees, the golf courses - overfed snakes, sequin blue rectangles

of the private swimming pools, the tended gardens, the red buses for whites, green buses for non-whites and the polished Jaguars,

all fading behind into gold dust, the three of us not really attempting to revive our flagging love affairs with each other.

 

We never really hit it off, Johannesburg, my tarnished lady and I,

but then relationships are at the best of times mouth puckering

in their quince-sweet compromises.

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© Johnmichael Simon

2007

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