For my friend’s who grew up in RSA and the Eastern Cape (especially those who don’t live here anymore), and for my father who symbolised aloes for me:
Aloes move me.
The way they stand there on a hillside of dry, golden winter veldt, facing the sun,
Shoulder to shoulder, like an army of peasants
holding up the sky.
Their presence makes me catch my breath and swallow hard, an astonishing rush of emotion.
And I can’t think why these plants move me as they do.
There is an anguish in their stark silhouettes, in the determined set of their shoulders.
They are rebellious and stubborn and hardy,
and it is their character that renders them more lovely than the singing of it.
I am uncertain if they raise their arms in worship or surrender or defiance ……..(though I suspect the latter),
because there is a gleeful irreverence in the way they point their middle fingers at the sky.
Yet they are stately too and regal, even,
wearing the colours of blood and red earth and sunrise.
These steadfast, wholehearted, warrior, renegade plants, have painted the backdrop to my life.
And when I see them I know relief.
I know the unexpected joy of familiarity, of finding myself among friends, of being home after a long journey.
And I feel deep, deep in my bones
that I need to be (mostly) where the aloes are.
Because where the aloes are is Home.