I owe this title to Makhosazana Xaba, who read the poem and suggested it. I think it works. And to Patrick Cockayne, the rogue photographer who captured the sky one stormy day… Thanks collaborators!
We South Africans rarely
discuss the weather.
Temperature, yes, the highs and lows
of daily fluctuations, talked out in seams of
exhaled complaints. But not
Its ordinary wisdom is never analyzed.
We are trained by the glib
to forgive too easily, we slide into optimism
as into a well-fitting trouser.
So when the storm comes we don’t have an umbrella.
And it comes unexpectedly: we admire the mass movement
of the stately cumulus, their darkening
from cream to
bilious purple pent-up rage.
Snake-tongue lightning licking the rooftops
streets awash with revenge
cars skidding over the unstable firmament
hail hurled in furious stones .
We are terminally surprised
when we get home,
drenched. I had no idea, we say
that you were so angry.
– End –