EVENING WALK IN PARLIAMENT STREET, CENTRAL

a poem by Conrad Kruger van den Bergh, South Africa - poetry writer, author, poet

“Don’t let it bother you”, I whisper
only she can hear me
she is beautiful
tonight
in her long red dress
her only proper dress
and black coat
her only proper coat
black boots
red lips
scared
and I feel her hands
shaking
touching my chest
her warmth
through my coat
she presses tighter
against me
trembling
her dress
falling with the ends of my coat
I lock my arm
around her waist
she is soft
her blond hair
moving with the breeze
gently
against my neck
strands stuck between my lips
I leave them there
sometimes they feel good
there
one more reason why
I dare
to love her
sometimes
I latch my arm tighter
around her waist
and turn her away
from Parliament Street

I hope she can see
the small Christmas tree
in the filthy shop window
just to the side of me
fake snow
sprinkled over plastic leaves
empty boxes scattered beneath
wrapped
in shining papers
reds, golds and greens
with yellow ribbons
tiny Santa Clauses
perched on white cloth
shining streamers
sleeting down
gently
a phoney North Pole scene
but better
than the one behind us
in the gutter
in Parliament Street

I feel her hands move again
and press her tighter
against me
stubbornly
still pulling her away
her heart races
too fast
she mumbles something
“Shhhhhh…..” I say again
“….just close your eyes. We’re leaving,”
I know she does
close her eyes
and I keep the lead
walking her further away
lowering my face
she keeps up
an awkward step
drops her head onto my shoulder
hiding her eyes in the fold of my neck
her nose touching my chin
soft skin
not like mine
coarse
I know
sun burned
mostly
and she always smells nice
like something that always stays soft
even if the world tries to make it hard
even when she drank too much
even when she smoked too much
even when everything
makes her scared
like tonight
in Parliament Street

“Keep moving Mazzy,” I say again
we move further away
from the gutter
behind
still trembling
she keeps her eyes
in my neck
hiding her face
from a gathering mob
growing quickly
on the sidewalk
dozens of people
from somewhere
curious
mingling
stirring
around us
some smiling
most wondering
all excited
breathing
mobile phone cameras
clicking
telephone calls
WhatsApp messages
Facebook Apps opening
Twittering away
I press through them all
like a bastard
with no manners
bumping
into unknown arms
shoulders
pushing them
out
of the way
and we leave their chatter
behind
and find distance
from them all
and...

...the dead man
sprawled
and broken
in the gutter...
...in Parliament Street.

Conrad Kruger van den Bergh (Copyright, 2018)

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