The offices where I work are on either side of a very busy major road. In order to facilitate the flow of people from one building to the other, the firm build a bridge across the road. The bridge has thick glass walls and you can see the road on either side, stretching between the suburbs and the city of Johannesburg. I was inspired to write this poem one day recently when I was crossing the bridge late in the afternoon. The sky was cloudy and bleak threatening the desperately needed rain that never came, aside from a few spits and splashes, and the cars stretched out below, in a long line, heading in and out of the city.

Who’s really free

The sky is dark, coloured an unrelenting grey;

Outside it’s damp and dreary, a dismal day;

I gaze out of the window, splattered with rain;

I stretch – an attempt to ease my physical pain;

The lines of traffic extend for miles each way;

A depressing sight that fills me with dismay;

The landscape is blurred, shrouded by a soft mist;

An addition that gives the scene a threatening twist;

Tall buildings adorn the horizon, shabby and bleak;

Tiny ants dart inside, refuge from the rain they seek;


A ray of sunshine, creeps through a gap in the cloud;

It gleams bright and bold, of its success quite proud;

An arrow formation of birds crosses my line of vision;

The rain and the cold have forced a flight decision;

Such a contrast from my world, confined and cramped;

The birds, completely free, from this land have decamped;

They roam, unfettered, across an unrestricted, spacious world;

As I watch, my toes in my smart shoes, are tightly curled;

I turn away abruptly, back towards the bright, artificial light;

I quell any questioning thoughts invoked by this compelling sight.

by Robbie Cheadle