Stellenbosch, South Africa

I took a deep breath this morning,
the steamy African air seeping into my dry lungs,
and thought of home—

the soft glow of northern sun
on warm wooden floors and
the musky smell of dried flowers,
burnt coffee, in the kitchen.

This place is like a fun-house mirror,
distorted and frightening; familiar
shapes and colours peering through
swirled, dangerous lines.

and then there is a heart-stop, tight-breath pause;
there is a pull back, a receding into quiet nothing.

I remember the streets of Langa, bustling,
full of barefoot children, round women with
loads on head, babies wrapped on back.

I remember what whiteness felt like
on those black-tar streets. It was a quiet discomfort.
Not the loud shame of this death-white town.