Dividing the Red Centre by Christina Collins
Hope Springs in Alice where water doesn’t,
I am a thirsty dog with a flat white,
I think there are lots of kinds of thirsts, here.
The riverbed marks one side of town
Sliced off from the other: dust versus concrete.
In the hipster café that plays Bowie, we eat poached eggs
With gleaming brown skinned youth from Byron Bay, France, Laos.
Through the long glass windows, we see darker brown
We are woke; enjoy the décor of diversity:
Fair trade, equality, and hemp mats,
Hepburn freedom quotes scrawled prettily on blue walls
And no stone to shiver the glass – I remember Tatamkhulu.
I know fear is just what I don’t yet know
But – the other barrier cut me off
From the smiling woman with ‘I wanden help’ scrawled in sharpy on cardboard
And I didn’t
Even when she pushed the barrier aside and in perfect English
Later, in the restaurant, the waiter opened the rope barrier to let us in
Then closed it.
The white, well dressed are served mulloway and Riesling while their beds are made by dark hands.
Where’s Bowie to sell us Great Truths now?
I think of the dead zebra finch in the grill of the car; reminder of the lie.
There is something very wrong, here.
And I am part of it.
Tatamkhulu Afrika – author of apartheid poem ‘Nothing’s Changed.’
Christina Collins is a secondary English teacher currently living in Australia. Christina likes Morris dancing and shanty singing when not writing or drinking. Twitter @Chris_E_Collins