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The Rinkhals In Muckleneuk Ridge - Poem by Gert Strydom

We were living in the mansion
in Muckleneuk Ridge
when Heinrich wheeled the
rubbish bin out to the street
to leave it for the collectors,
and the red haired neighbour woman
started to shout at him.

I was just getting out of my Volkswagen Polo
and within a minute I was there
like a avenging angel,
telling her to leave the boy alone
and that the pavement
doesn’t belong to her
and that we have got the right
to put out the rubbish bin
for the rubbish collectors.

She got red with anger in her face,
hissed like a snake trying to spit
and cursed me in English
and I told her to get lost.

That woman was aquatically
quite funny and always dressed
in a track suit,
(as if she had no other
type of clothes)
living in a dilapidated house
like a hermit
with rusting sink plate roof
and weeds standing knee high
in her garden
in that rich man’s neighbourhood.

It was when the dogs
tried to catch a half grown coucal
which the wind had blown
out of its nest
and I jumped down the steps
of some terraces
to rescue the poor thing

and I and that wild bird
got to love each other
and it would start to scream
with excitement as soon
as it heard my car
coming near

that Heinrich trapped a venomous
ring-neck spitting cobra
in our garden
and I wanted to kill it
and you said
that even snakes
have a right to live.

I told you that the snake
was apt to kill somebody
as I was leaving for work
and you took the kids
to let it free in the field,
(or so I was told) ,

but a few days later
that utterly rude woman
was really surprised
and screamed for her life
when a snake hissed at her
spitting in her eyes.

[Rinkhals = ring-neck spitting cobra.]

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