Where the dual carriageway to Simonstown
is nearest the bay some cars were parked
on the hard shoulder and some folk were standing
on the stony beach. A Southern Right Whale
had calved near the shallows. We stood with strangers,
in the silence, watching the suckling baby
and the mother in their huge gentleness.
False Bay is wide as a sea, as deep,
so-called because sailors without charts
thought it was Table Bay twenty miles west.
Simonstown was one of the last to accede
to Apartheid. A colonial port,
way station to the East, British dockyard,
it became a diverse place of Dutchmen
and Lascars, Jews and Muslims, entrepreneurs
and runaways, Xhosa guides, and Khoisan
strayed the few miles from the heather of the Cape.
Opposite our guesthouse was a cove where whales,
at the end of the breeding season, came,
like ships of the line, to scrape off barnacles,
before their journey to the sounding oceans.
As we left town we passed the main car park,
and, at its edge, eight young men in white
and navy blue from Khayelitsha township
singing a capella: ‘Nkosi