‘The essential characteristic of a nation is that all its individuals must have many things in common – and must have forgotten many things as well.’ What is a Nation? Ernest Renan


Near the restaurant’s toilets, there was a large

framed print of a photograph of the beach

full of day trippers from Cape Town by train

one Christmas/New Year break in the ’50s –

when it was Slegs Blankes/Whites Only.

The restaurant’s customers were still white,

the staff black – by Toyota taxis daily

from the townships. On the beach, that windy

September day, African Penguins –

erstwhile ‘Jackass’ – were braying at the surf.

A Southern Whale and its young rose close

inshore and blew… From the bedroom window

of our three star guest house we could see,

in the moonlight, a young black man lay down

to sleep on the grassy bank near the sea’s edge.

In the morning he had gone. A submarine

sailed from the naval base, sounding its horn.

We watched a mist roiling slowly towards us

and the dark kelp bobbing.




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  1. #1 by Hugh Powell - September 30th, 2016 at 17:43

    It is the opening of a classic Le Carre, in which we the reader get to finish the story, and place the conflicts and conspiracies in their improper places.

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