District Six Lament

There's turmoil deep within as I listen;
Raging torrents of anger spilling over
And crashing onto the rocks of time;
Space invaders robbing innocence,
Their bulldozers destroying walls
That might have opened things up
But instead created separation,
You from me, each from all,
Communities of coexistence broken,
Yet failing to destroy our humanity.

The memories linger in haunting echoes;
Battering rams emptying a hall,
Balconies pulled down, seven steps destroyed,
Mortar ripped apart, brick after brick,
Dust from debris, ash from asphalt.
Yet the indestructible survives in seeds
Floating on gusts of the south-easter
Blowing where it wills across the bay
Distorting aliens left over from the past,
Germinating fynbos which springs up
On the bleak emptiness of the blank page
Which blossoms like the rose with your pen
Healing the spirit in life reborn.

Silence then might have been wordless fear;
Silence now is wordless love
As we face an unknown tomorrow together,
While the torrent settles in the calm of today.

June 2014

For some the anger that resulted from the destruction of Cape Town's District Six in the 1970s remains.

The Demolition of The Salvation Army Barracks, Muir Street.
Watercolour: Alan W Owen.

Du Plessis personal collection.