We Are Here: On a not too hot day

2010-11-30 08:55

Day 6 (30 November 2010)

This poem forms part of the We Are Here series, a collection of

16 poems by Antonio Lyons that look at gender violence from a male


It was hot…so hot.

One of those clear-blue-sky days where nothing separates you from the insistent fire-tipped rays of the sun, but the hope that you can reach your destination before you have to wipe another drop of sweat from your tension-creased forehead.

And later ponder the damp spot left on the side of your pants from your wet hand.

It was hot, and people walked slowly as if it would make the heat of the day pass over them a little more gently. My pace is a little faster, as New Yorkers are wherever they go.

A beat later, I slow my pace to match the rhythm of Johannesburg and her people…well-versed in heat and exhaustion, and hunger.

I recognise it because I am also hungry after a day of running around this busy city in the midst of 2010 construction mayhem. Roads dug up and leaving gaping wounds of red earth that reveal piping tendons and wiry veins. Buildings rise with speed and certainty. Traffic diversions leave commuters confused and resigned. And everywhere throngs of people going nowhere slowly, and it’s hot and my day is almost done.

I shout bus stop in a deeper resonance than most non-Africans use. I’ve learned that the right inflection can keep me from missing my mark. I wait for the taxi to come to a full stop. I unfold myself and climb from the back seat where four bodies have been wedged with too little leg room and no space for bums to breathe. Warm bodies packed together on a too-hot day.

I’m out on the side walk and crossing the busy intersection of Queen and Langerman.

I raise my weary eyes on this too-hot day and across my vision a couple about a block ahead are a having a public dispute.

I watch them silently play out this dance. My pulse quickens. My hot, hungry and tired body’s amplified irritation goes to red alert. My throat tightens and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth like I just ate a spoonful of peanut butter.

My steps speed up and I want to say something. I can see where this thing up ahead is going. A violent wind is blowing.

She pushes him and jumps in his face. He side-steps and moves forward. She spins around unwilling to be dodged. He feints left, and brushes her away determined to continue his forward motion. Her insistent demands. Him unwilling to stop and listen and address her needs. She so concerned with driving her point she misses the mark...misses the signs that on a too-hot day, anything can happen.

So I watch anticipating the need to intervene…as the heat of the day drives internal thermostats to explosion…to devastation…to slow thoughts and fast action of hands on flesh. And just at that point of no return…I think she becomes aware that they are not alone on this busy slow-moving baking side walk. And she grows silent and stops her need for something, I know not what.

And I release my tension-locked body, wipe the sweat from my creased forehead and stroll past. She won’t meet my sideways glance and he seems to be in a world all his own. I exhale, never looking back. Seeing what next will cross this vision of mine. Body focused on just getting home on this too-hot day.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.