Ruby, my Ruby
From Hondeklipbaai
With the sun in your heart
And the wind in your hair
And the early morning sea mist
Full of seagulls and fishing boats
The silver fish dreaming
In the green of your eyes

And the clean smell of tar
And the creaking of oars
And your salty brown skin
And sand on your toes
And your shiny pink toenails
And the sound of your laughter
Memories of your footprints
On those windswept shores

Ruby, my Ruby from Hondeklipbaai
With the salt in your hair and sea in your eyes
Is the lonely open road the lover you longed for?
Are you singing your song beyond the wind?

Ruby, where have you gone
With your faded blue jeans
And your fancy denim waistcoat
From the Pep Stores in Malmesbury
And your song of the road
And your kisses so salty
Like the taste of bokkoms
That haunt my dream

And the creature of your breast
Rising soft as a moon
And your tongue in my mouth
So bold and so warm
And the tides of your body
Slow tides of your loving
Like the salt-warm waters
Of that blue lagoon

Ruby, my Ruby from Hondeklipbaai …

Hondeklipbaai – named for the large stone at the entrance to the village which looks like a dog, is a tiny dot on miles of empty coastline. This is a story I imagined of a young girl - restless to know the world beyond this small village with its fogs and sea mist, its storms and wind - and a hunchback, a mender of nets who loved her, destined to remain behind in his ‘house in the wind’.
Ruby makes me think of a road trip I did with my daughter Jo Ractliffe in 2003. We arrived at Pella, an oasis with date palms not far from the Orange River, in a stifling 40 degree temperature. A young girl noticed Jo taking photographs and asked for her picture to be taken - but that we must wait. She emerged in what looked like the latest PEP stores mail-order fashion; pinks shorts and a tank top, bright pink lipstick and formidable sunglasses, accompanied by a boy of about sixteen with a gun. They posed together against the white backdrop of their cottage wall with the gun pointing to the sky; Bonnie and Clyde, Pella style. It made me think that for them, like Ruby, ‘the world’, all that could be learned of it from magazines and mail order photographs, was definitely ‘out there’.

  • Barbara Fairhead