Under the Guava Tree

The red earth under my nails makes the teacher scarlet rant and jump and jive as I stare out the window for two o’clock. My body is dragged to the bathroom where brush and file and cloth and soap do the necessary work and tangled knots are pulled hither and thither. I stare with open mouth at the string of sun that moves along the green and white until the deviled bell and 30 pairs of bare feet race across the dirt to white bread and cheese and netball games.

Vetkoek and jam in hand, zip inside the shadow of the sweet smells my friends with bees and white small leaves and the thing that scares the ladies in hats en route to church is that I am content with being happy. The seeds let off a mist of pink and yellow zest and the ants steady on, steady on for the moment I could pickle and put in the pantry.

Deep the deep the roots the red the dirt the rife life lies inside the unexplored colonies. I dig beneath to find the friends in earth, salute, the queen of ants. Hop-two-three-four they lift me up-up in the air, and two by two we go a-marching through the crops in the vineyard under the cool leaves they lay me to rest and feed me grapes and mulberries and purple-faced I face the sky and grin at the white-bearded gods smiling down on me. From them comes the rain and the wind and the hail I know, the thunder and the lightning and the smell, oh the sweet smell of fresh wet ground.

I roll around and round in the mud and soil my face and hands and elbows and knees brown and orange like the home under the ground where I live and reign and breathe and speak I am not scared I am the wind I am the child under the guava tree.


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