Monthly Archives: August 2012

A beautiful spot


It took us ages to get here. So glad we persevered.

Miles down a dirt road, through beautiful pine tree plantations, with warm low light shining between the tall straight trunks, catching both the copper coloured bracken on the ground and also some broken branches hanging from the trees, highlighting them both in a matching colour. The longer we drove, the longer the shadows grew until the light oozed through the dark stripes like liquid gold.

Eventually, long after we wondered if we’d gone wrong, we found it. We had no idea what to expect. Just a casual recommendation from someone over dinner last night.

The wooden building was perched on the very edge of a steep valley. Earl Grey tea and delicious home made milk tart on the balcony. Simply one of the best spots for a bite I’ve ever experienced.

Directly below the balcony, the river, full after the heavy rains and the melting mountain snow, roars over three or four waterfalls. The dramatic rock strata run vertically – straight down into the narrow valley. The top of the gorge is lined with pine trees bathed in golden sunlight, the valley in deep shadow.

The river looks like something out of Charlie and the Chocolate factory: brown water from the soil sediments, making it look like a flow of coca cola with foam collecting at the sides.

Past the energetic and noisy waterfalls, the river ambles out to sea. Down the valley the ocean vista opens up, beyond the waves crashing on the rocks – the sound of which you can only just make out and distinguish from the tumbling water beside us.

Tiny white birds fly as if in slow motion across the wide seascape. Just above the hazy horizon is a line of clouds, as straight as the horizon on the underside but rising up, bulbous and proud at the top, displaying the slightly pinking light on the highest edges.

The rest of the sky is clear bright blue, with only a few whisps of high cloud like thin streaks of smoke. A welcome change from the driving rain of the day before.

Sitting, drinking it all in. So grateful. So very grateful.

[Recommendation: The Fernery, Tsitsikamma. ]

Look me in the eye


Anger welled up inside me.

Its strength took me by surprise.

How dare she?!

She didn’t look.

Couldn’t bring herself

to look him in the eye.

She just held a hand outstretched,

through her window,

with a few rand,

small change.

Begrudgingly given.

At arm’s length,

behind her line of vision.

Eyes fixed forward.

Swiftly driving away.

The car guard who’s done his job well,

looked after her car,

doesn’t even get the courtesy

of being looked at in the eye.


Maybe he’s from Congo,

or Zim.

Likely well-educated,

maybe a teacher back home.

But here, a car guard.

The most legal of his limited options.

Trying to earn an honest living.

Hard earned.

What’s worse?

The driving rain,

or the cutting lack of respect?

The latter by far I expect.

It doesn’t take much to give

a little dignity, warmth and respect.

What’s the lady afraid of?

The one who doesn’t meet his eye.

That he’ll ask for more?

That he’ll harm her?

I don’t think so.

Maybe she’s scared

that if she looks him in the eye

she’ll see his humanity there,

that he’s not so unlike her

and that’s harder to ignore.

That might disturb her comfortable day,

her blinkered life.

Photo credit: Five Minute Friday: “Still”.


All poems and original writing on this blog are Copyright © Hilary Murdoch 2012