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Thunder wakes me, rolling over the townships,

then the suburbs south of the city, and eastward over the veldt.


Heavy rain falls suddenly, bouncing off the vehicles

in the secured, hotel car park.


The Klipspruit, which flows passed the vast,

abandoned gold reefs, will have risen, inundating

the shacklands, their improvised shanties,

dirt streets and hard won gardens –

and I think of the rain falling on the newly paved

Walter Sisulu (erstwhile Freedom) Square,

the other side of the railway tracks.


Standing on the footbridge yesterday,

I could hear the distant call to prayer from Lenasia

on the higher ground beyond the river.

A flock of Brown Ibis flew over –

their rasping cries, loud, unsettling.


A long, yellow commuter train left the station,

moving slowly under the bridge. After it,

two people crossed the rails from the old street market

to the ‘informal settlement’ – a middle aged woman

in traditional township dress and a teenage girl

pristine in her Jozi school uniform.


Thunder wakes me – a low, loud, prolonged

concatenation, explosions like blastings,

the clangour of wagons shunted,





Note: first published in ‘A Jar of Sticklebacks’ –




© Copyright David Selzer
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