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The Smell of South Africa
by Eliza Camire

it doesn't smell like rain much.
hot tar- hot dirt- hot bodies-
and the sun turns your pale
skin brown like the dirt
that gets kicked up when you walk
or when a car drives by
and you can smell exhaust
and you can see it in the worn
faces that pass you in the market
in the townships
in the bars

you can smell the sour grapes
when you walk by a vineyard
fermenting into a fine pinotage
to be bottled and sold and stored
and enjoyed by those who
don't go home smelling of sweat
and rotten fruit after picking
baskets of grapes in 39 degree
weather to feed too many children
to feed too many debts
and bad habits picked
along the way.

it doesn't smell like rain much.
the weather is predictable
and so with it, the scent-
hot tar- hot dirt- hot bodies
But the streets are lined with gutters
and my nose aches for wet soil
and darkened tar and the feeling
of cleansing that comes when it pours.

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