The wooden chair there on the stoep
will break soon, but the farmer on it
is unaware. The change he sees
is in the clouds now rolling in
across the ready land at dusk.
More timely this year than before
if, as he reckons, this is it:
The storm to come and break the back
of the dry months (and the chair.
This the farmers does not know.).
He takes another slowed-down sip,
then wipes his brow, just as the dog
comes limping homeward gingerly
because the leg is tender still.
(A group of bikers had passed through.)
To greet the dog the farmer stands,
leaving the chair without adieu
(he does not know) but with his drink,
then bends to pat the ridgeback’s head
with his other hand, the one
that bears the ring. It raps on skull.
Still, the red dog is content
to collect his master’s love.
Love that stayed on when she passed
and also when the children left.
Later, in the kitchen he
turns the bean-can upside down
to use the opener on its bottom.
He does not use the snap-off lid.
Predetermined breaking points
are not his business. Then he cooks
and eats and feeds the dog. (The cats
will have to feed themselves. “This is
still Africa, no zoo,” as he
likes to tell the grandkids when
in the Christmas holidays
they come and show him in their gadgets
a world he once chose to forego
but which will simply not respect
that decision. He turns in
to read in bed a while and listen
to the rumble of a storm
gathering force. And then he sleeps
and is woken only once
by something hurled across the stoep.
(Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are a-Changing” came on on my headphones and I wanted to make a connection to South Africa.)