Neighbours: 360


Most of these days
are giants,
where our surreal memories
space out the unnecessary pause
in between (our) letters and journeys.
I remember
only once in the middle of a conversation with the store owner’s niece,
how our lives seem to be distinctly memorised
like a routine
that guides us into a biological template
of blood and bone.
consciously handed me a fresh cup of their morning tea
just to keep me smiling –
she nodded
as she tapped on the counter hurrying to the back of the kitchen; Ten minutes later she waved goodbye and yes, I left –
I left the shop.

Walking to the car
I remember seeing a man,
coming out of a bookshop
making his way to the nearest ATM;
he looked very old and educated –
content with his hope-riddled life,
his wrinkled eyes and jittery smile
as he gripped two psychology books in his hands.

I walked to the car
placing one hand inside my pocket and noticed
another man walking to a tree;
He came and sat down on a bench underneath the shade
as if though he was thinking
about something he had remembered
once so long ago
like far away days pushed out like mountains beyond the grass.

In the evening
I sketch analogue dreams
in patterns
blowing out stars to the east
to the west.
As I take my chair
I sit outside to look at the refulgent skies
almost reflected in my coffee,
as if I can see -as if I can see my friends;
Old friends long gone,
passing through
almost arranged like the stars.
In between,
the locusts grasp the midnight frames
alongside the bed fittings, curtains and the cupboards
hatched along the Meranti doors -quiet and peering
roundly up and down the ceiling,
the broken window,
to the sounds or voices or something like that, shivering
to the full discrete shadows
staring to the half dawn.

into the room side by side,
the paint fades into golden-crystallised watermarks
filled with patches of paper dreams and body trails – close, intimately stained
next to cardboard calenders taped to a corner;
Another corner brightened by a skewed candle,
with one mattress on the floor,
one paper cup
and a book
half open near the corner of the room.

“How are you finding the neighbourhood?” asked an inquisitive neighbour.
She had baked a cake, a berry-delight & fudge cake with crushed pecans generously sprinkled on its side.
I replied.
“That’s exactly what the previous tenants said, ‘Intimate Neighbours’. You know,
rumours had it that they moved out
because they thought
they were being watched,
followed,” she chuckled,
“See that old man across the street,
he is convinced that nobody knows
this neighbourhood
like he does – a bizarre and crimpling, old figure lingering intimately
in his garden…”

A figure stood inched
at the door – wounded
like some brain-washed imposter
to enter
the strange door
which had no definitive colour or solid contours;
a door
that appeared to a stranger
as an empty room
of black
and white;
Of colourless memories
falling to the floor
in echoes of October.

I get to the post office the next day neither excited nor fazed;
To me everything still looked ‘old’ -the houses,
the automobiles and trains,
and whistles and stares
except for the quickened strides
all around;
all around with shadows
framing the sidewalks
man next to man
breathing sounds like murmurs finally, at last! I remembered once
how I seemed to enter
that room
with stillness
like I wore another man’s face
on me, close and almost perfect, hidden like a secret sleep.
This feeling as if though drawn out of me -pulled like a useless, loosening knob that as it falls to the ground I hear echo, echo

and then a perfect calm.

But then,
I remember
and think that in our journeys
when the world comes to see a faded dream,
what will it see? Or open this washed-out envelope,
what will it find?
When it remembers
all the times we stood
with our backs to the wall
facing the sun, or reminisced walks in the open fields counting backwards to none, to zero;
Our shaded memories
like black thoughts in a book,
just simply vanishing
to hours
to seconds,
to such imperceptible ideas
that cloud every sounding tree, every coffee shop, every dream and ghostly landlord perched
at the edge of his chair
waiting for his son;

Waiting for his son.

neighbours theme3

Clementine Kganyago

Clementine: ‘We are indeed strangers – intimate ones. 360 summarises how an individual goes about his daily life in the same routine, which he inevitably notices: his own words, “To me, everything else seems old..” shows how he is used to these common strangers – that even his old friends, with whom he supposedly does not have any contact with, seem like strangers/imposters. To him, everything is pushed out into the days like far-away mountains stretched into the horizon…’