Up for Nabs

Nabeeha, my darling niece. This is for you. It's not a poem,but since you are so far away from home, it might be of interest. Tell me how it makes you feel.

“The fear of freedom is strong within us.” – Germaine Greer

 Legend has it that the surly, swirling blanket of cloud that covers the top of Table Mountain when the wind comes in fast from the cold Antarctic, blowing harsh and south-easterly across the city, is no ordinary cloud. No. The wind whistles a tale of two who sit upon a neighbouring peak, the craggy rock that bears the name of one: Devil’s Peak. The other is van Hunks, a constant visitor to the crags in his day, in his century gone by, who by his wilfulness is cursed to match wit and life against his strange foe.

And as the wind whistles, it whisks away from their lips the magic smoke that stems from ancient pipes they hold in their knotted hands; and it carries and caresses the smoke to its new home, spreading it thinly upon the mountain’s bare top. Sweeping back and forth between the sandstone slab and the two figures bent upon their undertaking, it gathers and trusses the fleece for its wispy fabric. Until the cloud drips along the entire fractured face of the rock, following its shape, formed by its shape, but longing to drop all the way down, longing to sink into the sea, but held there forever it seems, held there for just a little while longer, as one of the two figures puffs his next breath; until at last one of them puffs his final breath. Or until eternity comes. Then the cloud can come to rest. Then the mountain can crumble to the sea.

And in its imagined fall to the ocean floor, the cloud seeks to fulfil its destiny; seeks itself in its own destiny; seeks its future in the here and now. But finding only the past reflected, re-enacted, recreated. Endlessly. Needlessly. Uselessly. Finding itself trapped in the prism of history.

But the cloud is replenished even as it tries to drop. Curled back by the angry cross-winds shuttling between the two peaks, clasping the cloud on its feathery bed of rock. Until the wind grows tired of its task. And draws a last deep breath, gathering itself up from every corner, crack, crevice and cavity in the city; from the lowest sewer depths it could plumb, to the miles above where it gasps for air; from the dusty noise of the newest settlements, to the settled quiet of the oldest suburb. For the wind goes in everywhere, it sees everything. It blows into every house, into every breath that is breathed, touching the lips of those who sleep (murmuring in their dreams), touching the eyes of those who wake (muttering under their breath), taking away with it a word here, an image there. Piecing it all together, it tells itself the tales it fashions on the long journey home across the south sea.

And if you listen carefully to the wind as it subsides, the last gusts to leave will whisper to you a tale. The tale of tomorrow, and of all the tomorrows to come…


2 Responses to “Up for Nabs”

  1. nabeeha Says:

    thank you uncle rod, thank you so. i often used to think when crying after an email or note from someone back home or from a friend elsewhere in the world that it was because i was sad. i’ve kind of recently realised that its simply becasue im really happy with everything in my life and that extract certainly mademe shed more than just one tear. say hello to mr mountain for me. love always

  2. the1rod Says:

    Happiness is gelato on a hot day. Do you get much over there?

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