Track driving: Driving on the N2 with Ghosts in My Car
I am driving on the n2 with ghosts in my car, I think as I cross at dusk the swartkops river in the rain, and look over my shoulder into the car’s many blind spots to see:
the slow grey sea, the exposed prawn pump sand flats, the fake greek houses, sewer works, rubber factory, smoke stacks, new brighton, gelvandale and the back end of north end to where – closer – the empty seats in the car are filled with the ghosts of farm labourers – their dead eyes look at me calmly now, stunned, oozing aloe juice and chewing tobacco – they were found in lucerne fields around the province dead from natural causes like lightning strikes or a mellow stroke in their gum boots with their spades in their hands, and miners around a koppie ghosts, policemen in a mall ghosts, hijackers on a highway ghosts:
they’re all the same ghosts here, the same eyes, driving in my car on the n2 today together with goal keeper ghosts, middle distance runner ghosts, boxer ghosts, and the infirm ghosts of history: one ghost who wrote that he wrote what he liked, 2 cosas ghosts, 3 pebco, 4 cradock, 5 what, 6 more, 7 settler ghosts, gaika’s ghosts, retief’s ghosts, the ghosts of the starving cattle and the prophetess’s empty words on the blank sea, just some strandlopers on a midden ghosts – all the way from there to alone TVs burning inside alone fake greek houses where alone modern ghosts, carpet dust, kettle & chord, vacuum machine, all electricity ghosts, like static facebook pages of dead friends, dog ghosts, budgies, your ninth cat, and garden refuse ghosts roam, ever-changing, moving across the ravaged landscape as a herd of goats, yes:
ghost-goats, made up of the ghosts of tree bark & compost, broken’n’half-bricks, maimed prickly pears and hacked at fenceposts, and the ghosts of this rain, the droplets like moths, the wipers trying to un-ghost the n2 stretching out in front of the car, aided by cats’ eyes, ghost business cards tacked to the tar, symbols of the way we – the ghost-goats – cover the earth with hopeful, stronger mixtures of ourselves:
concrete, tar, paint, plastic, galvanized steel, wind turbines, pylons, industrial harbours, cranes, lonely railways curving through corners of the country only otherwise visited by kudus, crows and ghosts of the blank spots on the map, the ghosts that slumber in aardvark holes, the small ghosts that flit out at dusk under the wings of bats, and ghosts of bruised aunts and suicide uncles and car accident cousins, and clothes that can never be worn again for their being filled with ghost-veins and ghost-bones and thoughts and moans of grandparents and great-grandparents never known, never seen, never heard, maybe even never truly dead for why then am I driving on the n2 with ghosts in my car?
the air is thick with ghosts, the clouds are weighed down by them, they erode the veld with their feet, they crawl the skin like ants, they breathe what I breathe, they put thoughts in my hands, they are the ghosts of children I don’t have and the fleeting ghosts of children lost in an unfair, one-sided altercation with life which is not a thing but a stream, a stream of ghosts and needs, and a scream, a scream of feelings, urges, loves, hates, hungers, satisfactions, and an accumulation of decisions made and not made to bring me here, you there, behind this wheel driving on the n2 with, in our eyes, the ghosts of the hot tears of true love, whatever that explosion of ghosts may be, and we don’t know, we never know, we guess, we chance, we live and let live, and we love, we love, we love our own ghosts, while driving on the n2, looking down at our own hands: our own ghost-hands.