Tabula Rasa In The Veld


Out in the veld there’s a large painted white rock that she likes to hug her body on, face down. The youngest child in the family of eight, when she can sneak away, wades through the high bush to the rock. To her it's a ship of amity from her family, her mother, her father, her school teacher, her brothers and sisters, the maid. She presses her small body against it; her arms splaying out on either side to hug the earth. The coolness of the rock from the white paint reflecting the sun alleviates her asthma, her lungs resting on the cool mass.

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There is nothing else around out there in the empty fields of outer Johannesburg and the child likes to close her eyes in the vastness of it all and listen to her wheezing slow. She can breathe here, resting. When time’s run out and she has to go back she shuts her eyes and braces herself for the steep payment of this small fortitude. Every time she lifts herself off the rock pushing up, she moves her small ribcage against her lungs. It is as if there’s broken glass scratching the inside of her breath and she squeezes her eyes every time. It is the price for her tabula rasa all alone in the sweeping wilds.