- for Rustum Kozain
A seal at the beach sniffs tins,
lifts them with his snout. & ever
this Manenberg jazz
behind each gesture,
rising & falling to waves the sea makes,
from here to a clothesline near the sky's end;
across the sun a flock of birds moves
like shirts hung out to dry.
But, here, moves this seal
drawn from tin to tin by the smell of sardines.
He brays at a passing child
& claps his hands to shoo her away
before moving on, his snout touching the blue
surface like a metal detector seeking treasure.
No females have come this way lately
to give birth, or in these shallow parts
to mate, where the Indian & Atlantic oceans meet,
here against rock blanched by fungus
that comes when the water warms up—
his shadow searches each hole
for shells still with flesh in them,
which, once exposed, disappears down his gullet
in a gasp. Magic time when that happens,
or when small fish are trapped as water withdraws
to meet its origin toward the ends of the earth.
Night falls fast, & the seal moves from the beach
to a group of rocks, disappears into the night
as Tshona from a docked iPod begins to play.
But tonight, like the baby bull glistening with kelp,
I go my way—& not even Abdullah Ibrahim
could hold me back today.