Group Photo from Pretoria Local on the Occasion of a Fourth Anniversary (Never Taken)


An uprooted tree leaves
            behind it a hole in the ground
But after a few months
You would have to have known
            that something grew here once.
And a person's uprooted?
Leaves a gap too, I suppose, but then
            after some years . . .
There we are
            seated in a circle,
Mostly in short pants, some of us barefoot,
Around the spot where four years before
When South African troops were repulsed before
            Luanda

Our fig tree got chopped
            down in reprisal.–That's Raymond
Nudging me, he's pointing
At Dave K who looks bemusedly
Up at the camera. Denis sits on an upturned
Paraffin tin. When this shot was taken
He must have completed
            seventeen years of his first
Life sentence.
            David R at the back is saying
Something to John, who looks at Tony who
Jerks his hand
            So it's partly blurred.
There we are, seven of us
            (but why the grinning?)
Seven of us, seated, in a circle,
The unoccupied place in the center
            stands for what happened
Way outside the frame of this photo.
So SMILE now, hold still and
            click
                  I name it: Luanda.

For sure an uprooted tree
            leaves behind a hole in the ground.
After a few years
You would have to have known
            it was here once. And a person?
There we are
            seated in our circle, grinning,
            mostly in short pants,
            some of us barefoot.


Jeremy Cronin, Triquarterly.