day zero

it was 05:58 this morning
when I walked out the door
the air still fresh and cool
not that I was in a hurry but
I did not wash my face nor drank a cup of tea
my clothes not washed for weeks

the bus arrived
only parched faces stepped in
our laughter dried up
nowadays we drive quietly

my bosses do not bother
to save water
(their faucets drip, their pools are filled)
to save what the administration cuts off
every summer
in our part of town

at night we gather near the local tap
the water flows too slowly for all these jerrycans to fill

my bosses saw a queue near a tap in their newspaper
this landmark event
they turned the page as if it happened somewhere far away
a few bus stops far away


Early 2018, the world witnessed Cape Town, the legislative capital of South Africa, struggle to maintain their level of water supply amidst a multi-year winter drought. Estimates of “Day Zero” were made: the day that the city would run out of water (Maxmen, 2018). A study on the increased risk of another Cape Town Day Zero showed that climate change made the drought 5 to 6 times more likely to occur compared to the early 20th century (Pascale et al. 2020). Additionally, the water crisis exposed unequal distribution and consumption of drinking water (Watts, 2018). This poem, therefore, examines the perspective of a person living and working at both ends of this continuum.