“Taxi ride” by Vangile Gantsho

he owns the pavement
he owns the street
he owns everyone in the taxi
the taxi driver owns my thighs
I focus on remembering my multiples of twelve

a young woman with a baby on her lap gets out
an older woman castigates her
for having children so young
the taxi driver hoots for a replacement
struggles to get out of first gear
he has a beguiling smile
his hands are sandpapering through my dress

a sea of children in school uniform
follow the FEES MUST FALL protesters
the taxi driver says he is proud of these young people
the sandpaper reaches for the ashtray in between my legs
he is looking for change
at a bus stop an old man is waiting for his taxi to fill up
he throws me a wanton smile
a passing car belts out: iqgirha le ndlela

a thick Xhosa accent thunders
the older woman mumbles something
followed by a conversation on grants
everyone speaks over the other
everyone has an opinion
everyone knows someone who is on some kind of grant
the grey-haired man is ogling my chest
the gear stick makes one last attempt on my thighs


Vangi Gantsho is a poet and cultural activist. Truthful and, at times hard-hitting, she has participated in poetry events and festivals around the world, as well as in a number of poetry plays. As a producer, Vangi has put together shows such as Katz Cum out to Play, The State Theatre’s Night of the Poets, and Human4Human.  Her work has been published in literary publications including The Agenda (2004), Sabel (UK, 2010), Wits Press (2011), and Botsotso (2015). Most recently, Vangi released her début collection:  Undressing in front of the window (2015). She holds an MA in Creative Writing from the University currently known as Rhodes.

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