South African poets – Two poems about women

Wonderful South African poetry shared by Robbie Cheadle.

Recommended,

The Woman at the Till by Tatamkhulu Afrika

She had a plain, hard face,

A head thrusted forward like a hawk’s.

Impossible brass triangles,

Improbable steel manacles

Cluttered her thin arms.

Clearly, she had little love for the world:

She had learned, though,

That she would not win,

So she did not throw your change at you,

Nor did she press it in your palm,

But placed it, sullenly,

On the counter in between.

She would wrap your purchase languidly,

Yet fast enough to cut off an complaint,

And when she had her punch-up with the till,

It was an exercise in ferocity,

Delicately restrained.

She was what we call “Maboer”,

A low white trash,

AWB most probably,

Slouching barefoot in Boksburg or Mayfair West.

I did not feel any particular hate for her,

Perhaps because I was what

She would call a low black trash,

Which made us quits.

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