with your writing paper
Meg, no words needed!

Sunday afternoon fix

feels like driving through the years of my life
what was is now no more

The Edward is something else
Father’s Moustache is something else
The Malibu is something else
The Charcoal Haven, the Villa d’Este?
Gillespie Street, Smith Street, West Street?
all something else

only the sea is the same

have walked North Beach
and driven to Blue Lagoon
now driving towards South Beach

bursting with words to capture
where can I stop and write

not there
nor there
or there

I drive on

a parking spot near Addington
hallo to the car guard
I stay in the car
busy with notebook and pen

a man’s just walked past with a child standing on top of his head
that’s good

today I saw a small boy holding the leads of two small dogs
they were rushing along ahead of him
in more or less the same direction
making their decisions about which side of oncoming people to go
the boy was on a skateboard
it was a recipe for chaos
but it was confounded
people made room as he sailed easily along
on a tide of goodwill

I saw a sand sculpture
on North Beach
of a woman
lying on her front
her face to one side
braided hair extensions in a thick ponytail
her bikini top painted on in a darker sand
strap demurely fastened

her bikini bottom was a dainty thong
engulfed by vast watermelon cheeks on either side of it
it was nestling in there somewhere

her shape was echoed in real life in the shapes around me
voluptuous, unselfconscious, spilling out generously, wobblingly, overflowingly
a painter’s delight
bulge upon bulge
curve upon curve

so many Springbok rugby jerseys
most of them old and faded
all of them worn by men

it’s quieter here, outside the hospital
I get out and walk

I like the way different parts of the beachfront are different
here it’s more wide open
it’s where Rhys and his mates launched their raft
going out past the nets to braai on the waves on Boxing Day

my notebook and I arrive on the sands behind a young couple
he in white Muslim hat and traditional long garb
she swathed in black

in this city we are a miracle of religious tolerance
and I thank my God for this
plus all the other Gods

this beach is so quiet
it’s where the buzz isn’t

the lifeguards talk, and glance over the swimmers half-heartedly
the sky’s a light grey

I’m going to the water’s edge now
the scene makes couples want to hold on to each other

a notice says
‘Roxy’s has Bicycle Hire Upstairs!’

the sea seems safer here
I’m getting my fix of Sunday Afternoon Beachfront

makes grownups hop and skip and fool about

like the eight-legged dogs who stand in the shallows
then they go in further but not far
running out to roll and shake

a scary bird floats over our heads
wings motionless
some flaps to gain height
then wings held still again
gliding in perfection
keeping still, yet moving ….. oh wonderful, wonderful world!

the Dalmatian prances
wants to go in deeper
to follow its humans
but is too cautious
knows the water could be dangerous

I pass the Durban Undersea Club
then the Durban Ski-Boat Club

getting so close to the Bluff now

the sun suddenly comes out for a few moments
it’s so beautiful I want to weep
I walk
the criss-crossing tyre tracks are crazy

I pop a bunch of foam with my tackie
and think about talking to Bryn about him talking to his mind and his body, his self
in the hope of preventing further migraines
it can’t hurt
there is so much we don’t understand

the last beachside building is Durban Paddle Ski Club
it looks the quietest of all
pleasantly oldschool and dumpy
nobody there

I always wanted to come here
to walk as far as you can walk before you’d get wet
and now I am, hooray

Addies is far behind
new buildings to my right
I’m at the harbour mouth

exotic words, harbour mouth
so full of promise

“… the harbour lights are calling …”

half-formed thoughts flying
sign says Trespassers Will Be Prosecuted
sun returns medium strength

I like the word ‘breakwater’
it explains itself

the snub-nosed Bluff was alongside me across this stretch of water
but now I’m further out
I’ve left it behind

I’m walking on the concrete towards a green lighthouse
at the end of Transnet’s pier
in the Port of Durban

as long as it’s day, I’ll be here

so grateful to my legs for carrying me so confidently

I see women ahead, among the men
so I will continue
on my pier

looking to my right I see that the Bluff is not the end of the built environment
where it ends, another pier begins
stretching out
and ending in a red lighthouse

each land-based lighthouse is echoed in another one planted in the water
swaying in the swell

it’s so peaceful here
I look back over the wide-sweeping arc of the land
I could see this exact shape on a map of the eastern seaboard

wet-suited spear-fishermen pass me
they’re heading to land and money
carrying their prey over their shoulders

“Survive?” one says to the other

the fishes’ eyes have seen their last
Nick would not like this sight

those who unfold their napkins sitting down to the Catch of the Day tonight
might be served that leopard-skinned magnificence

I touch the lighthouse
walk around it
look up at it
at the top the light rotates
but it’s not switched on yet

how would you get up there, I ask, if you absolutely had to
say you needed to change the bulb

don’t know, I answer, they’ve probably got a special ladder

the ocean rolls in at an angle here
not contained
but somewhat controlled
by this concrete
these vast rocks
it makes a rustling sound
slapping the giant rocks softly

I feel so peaceful and full, being here
spirit filled up

walk and stop and scribble
walk and stop and scribble

the big sign says NO FISHING
but a fisherman walks past me, rod in hand

the sun comes out again
the path from it to me moves with me
I’m so happy

I think I should put foot
to be back at the car before dark
but I linger and look leftwards
past the entrance to the harbour
to the open sea

turning away, my feet take me back to the car
which will take me back to my husband, my love
at home
our home
it’s a joy that we call the same place home

a speedboat bumps in

and another, on the other side, roars thinly
then beaches itself on the sand

I look back to where I’ve been
it’s quite a long way

in the other direction, the stadium’s spine is like an ultra-smooth animal’s
a smooth-a-saurus

a bulldog plods towards me
can’t help looking as if it’s in a bad mood

the guy with the tractor
and the guy with the boat
are working together to load the boat onto the trailer

two others come along to help lift the boat
slowly does it
would be terrible if it fell off
and they’re being very careful

now it’s some of the way on, and getting winched for the rest
round and round he turns the handle
now S617C is looking safe

he climbs into his speedboat and the tractor reverses
pulling it towards the club

a kayaker enters the water
he’s having a tough time getting in
being rebuffed
don’t give up

the sea is all things to all people
whatever you want her to be, she’ll be
as long as you know your place
that you’re puny

oh!  I’ve just seen a sign, how did I miss it before, Kayak Hire

how I love to see couples holding hands
specially when their skins are different colours
specially this couple
because they have their baby with them and it looks as if their colours were added together
and divided by two

in the 60s we danced, and sang along

“… what we need is a great big melting pot, big enough to take the world and all it’s got,
keep it stirring for a hundred years or more, turn out multi-coloured people by the score …”

I see that there’s a pier now, extending from Moyo at UShaka
with a restaurant on it
that’s new, to me

I can see from here that
‘Celebrate Africa’ is written on the sign
and multi-coloured painted hands enclose a space in the shape of a heart

I walk on
it looks as if this palm has coconuts on it!  better wipe the salt from my glasses and check – yes

my husband phones, where are you now, and says would you like to go out later
I tell him where I am, and that I was going to phone when I got back to the car

I walk faster
past Roxy’s at the Marine Surf Lifesaving Club

and when I do get back to the car, ten minutes later, I phone and say yes I would like to go out, that’s a great idea
but I’d need a bit of time first
to type what I’ve been writing
and he says that’s fine, see you in half an hour

I leave, remembering a sort of vow I made at age 18
as I watched the swimmers and surfers from Addington Hospital’s 4th floor
it took about two months after the motorbike accident
before I became the longest-staying person on the orthopedic ward
and could have my bed moved to the prime spot
by the window
it was fab

for another two months that was the best view in the world
if I turned my head to the right
to the ever-changing colours of sea and sky

I vowed I’d come back
and visit whoever was inside, in traction
and then walk out
on two strong legs
and join in the beach scene

au revoir
my beachfront
thank you for all you give to those who visit you

I’ll be back