Xoliswa By Amy Shelver

Thin and tired looking. I wonder if, she is sick.

The smell of paraffin and cheap stewing meat creeps from her window. My nostrils clench at the familiar smell. It feels like she has rung my bell to notify me she is in. I sit down. I can see her silhouette as she waits till 6:30pm – when there is no more light to go by – to turn on her lamp.

I assume she is saving electricity. It’s that time of the new democracy. Electricity is the new, great equalizer. It’s bringing back the primal. I like that she uses paraffin too. If only I could get over the smell.

No longer silhouetted, I can read the tired lines etched into her face. She worries all the time – remaining a survivor though. Somehow the blows of life rest upon her shoulders with an uneasy grace. She is wearing the light green sweater she wears on Tuesdays. I see her collapse into an uncomfortable pose on an equally uncomfortable looking chair. Cheap pine no doubt.

She looks out the window onto the street in a trance. I wonder if she sees it as a window of opportunity – or just a reflection of herself.

Wind sweeping through the corridor of urban filth, whipping up paper and dusk and leaves.

'Elizabeth' artwork by Karl Schoemaker
Artwork: Elizabeth (2019) | Karl Schoemaker | Digital photograph | Private collection | Price on request
'Elizabeth' artwork by Karl Schoemaker

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