Swamp monsters

The same field

Fifteen years later

Wind rustling the tips of the tall grass

Like nothing had changed at all

Back in town it all seemed different



But not here

As I came to the end of the route

I looked up

Where the grass field sloped upward

Towards the houses

Where the tall pines loomed and waved

Where he once tried to scare me

With stories of swamp monsters

And how he saw one’s tail once

The memory brought a smile

For the first time in days

I felt closer to him in that moment 

Than I had even at the funeral

Two days before

The cold February breeze stung my eyes

My nostrils were wet

But my head felt fresh 

All of me did

Muddy Wellingtons squished in the mud near the gate

Probably the same size shoe as his

All those years before

I stopped and looked back

The grassy fields sloped out towards the East

Under a grey clouded sky

Vague memories of chasing a ball

Down this slope

Of him running behind me


Was he happy in those moments?

What would he remember now?

If he could remember now

The same field

Fifteen years later

Life works in circles

It always does

While you trudge through mud

Thinking of hot coffee

Port Alfred is a quiet place

Out of nowhere

The other night

A random memory hit me

Of when I was five or six

We only have a few memories of those times

When we were small

Don’t we?

A few isolated oases

In the deserts of the past

In this one I was in Port Alfred

A small boy

At my aunt’s house on holiday

A small seaside town

And there I was

Sitting on the steps of the veranda

At about 9pm at night

The adults all inside, I was all alone

Looking out across at the lights of the houses and street poles

It was December and it was hot

But quiet

So quiet, and I liked that

There was something about it all

I suddenly had a thought

I needed to write something about this

I ran in to grab a pad and pen

The empty page suddenly seemed heavy in my hand

But I looked out again at the night and the feeling remained

In the distance I could make out the lights of the petrol station

At the point where the main road reached the town

I could faintly hear the distant groan of a truck

Few things more lonely

Than the sound of a truck on the highway at night

I had to write something

I felt compelled

Eventually I wrote the line

“Port Alfred is a quiet place”

I sat there for a long time after that

Trying to think of how to continue

But nothing came

I had this feeling swelling inside me in that instant

About this quiet moment in this quiet town at night

But I didn’t have the words or skill to put it down on paper

That was the only line I wrote

The paper was discarded and forgotten

Life went on

I wonder now how I might have completed that poem

Nowadays in my older age I can write lines like second nature


But sometimes I still sit outside after dark

And take in the sounds of night

Lights in the distance

Perhaps the gentle sound of swaying branches

A few more sounds now, here, than in Port Alfred 30 years ago

But still

Life has a way of letting life get in the way of everything important

But that deep rooted part of ourselves persists

At least it should

We just have to find it

Sometimes it’s at 3:25am thinking back

About how Port Alfred is a quiet place