In the dry, sweat-breathing afternoon,
We sit cross-legged on the baking linoleum floor,
Eyeball-burningly hot, legs kicking bored,
Arms and legs itching with dust,
Sipping on lukewarm borehole water,
Thick lips plastered together, tongues like paper;
We hope for soothing showers and dry lemon at sunset.
In the golden-light-gathering late afternoon,
We pick the struggling succulents
Sparsely scattered on the barely surviving
Bleached lawn, prickled with camel thorns;
Small, sadly crippled twigs puncture the flesh of these plants;
Our eyes sting from the sour aloe spray.
They become fathers, mothers, naked children;
Seedpods marked in the red soil demarcate:
Their boundaries, their homes,
Baobab pod beds, ants as pets;
For them, these aloe families,
We find small reserves of water,
Drops carefully collected from a slow-leaking garden tap
As the careless night blankets the drought-stricken horizon.