edited and reposted from the ghost with / open wound, 6th January 2012
the ghost with open wound
I grieve for my stillborn children
the markbook the yinyang learning
delivered and left in the theatre
‘how beautiful those babies are!’ said the people in the gallery
but the surgeon had left the room
talking urgently with his staff about something else
much more important
I grieve for the upbringing I gave to them anyway
all of my mother’s thought and striving
all of the creativity I put into them
lesson after lesson
for only adventitious and unexpected gain
like a mother from the wrong minority in the wrong neighbourhood
raising her children to have pride and dignity
to have their place in this fair and equal society
not openly condemned
‘for we are a righteous, civil profession’
but silence’d awkward-ed false-smile’d
while all the newspapers and televisions ask and debate
openly, transparently and so very fairly
what exactly these minorities contribute to our fine society
which aspires to be an Outstanding society
to stand proud in posterity …
… I am Rosa Parks
tired of having to give way
even though I am sitting on the right seat
in Montgomery I am Steve Biko still
chanting with my bloodied lip
face down on the cell floor
in Port Elizabeth I am Solzhenitsyn blowing
warmth onto my hands
far far across the Archipelago I am the
Chilean mother with pictures
of my sons tied around my neck
in Santiago I am a Vietnamese family
split up and adrift
on several boats in the South China seas I am a silent
Thich Quang Duc sitting
by the Austin Westminster I am an ex-monk
on a tour around the restored Jokhang in Lhasa
China I am a
‘best minds of my generation’
succumbed to madness
and I howl silently
against the society that put me in this cell
but told me I am free
I am tired but push on
even pick up the pace a little although
I forget: I am weak
no one cheers me on
others only notice
when I stumble
twenty five years ago I was scurrying about
trying to pick up the pieces of a dream
but the wind kept blowing them out of my reach
as I kept bumping into fences and walls
‘stop the wind!’ I complained in longer and longer documents
although no one would hear me
through the noise of the machines
ten years ago I offered up a lightweight
latticed bin with which to tidy up the yard
‘what is he carrying that bin around for
while we are trying to push the leaves into one corner’
they shouted to each other from their walls and towers
‘I wish he’d get out of the way?’
‘but the bin’ I said
something whole integrative dialectical webbed adjustable
I could hear the crowd grow to a roar as I ascended the steps
the torch held high I lit the beacon and …
… absolutely nothing.
No beacon no crowd no stadium no roar
the tumult had built and built and
not even an echo remained
Where am I?
Was I in that stadium
did I run those steps
was I going to light
that whole stadium?
Surely I didn’t imagine it all!
Surely there were steps
the stadium the beacon
all those people.
Surely all those things
were there! Why else
was I carrying the torch?
The torch I kept. I kept it burning.
I burnt it more and more efficiently
– clean, pure, bright.
I fashioned a lamp to keep it in.
It sent out light beyond itself and
I wandered around this bardo.
But most of it is gloom:
odd voices odd shadows
strange noises and chants –
ay-yeffell arr-aygee geetoo-ohpe
From time to time I could see
people calling me to account
I moved between them, I held up my lamp
but they couldn’t see me, couldn’t hear me.
And then they’d turn and talk to me
they’d look me in the eye and tell me
– so that I understood clearly
that this was urgent –
what society needed now
how deficiency was related
to what I – face fixed
eye-contact name at the top
of the document You! Me? Now! Already? Criteria!
But…? Proe-fesh-shun-all –
did and what I did not do
and then they would Team me
three more heads turn and fix me
six heads – heartbeat self-conscious
‘I’m noticed at last I’m here’ –
advance towards me
‘I can act again’
bear down on me
‘I know I’ll…’
and walk right through me –
whuphh, mphhwaphhwumpp, phblphbdphbdph…
held up the lamp
almost blew the wick out
quick turn it down turn away under my coat
shield it keep it alive
I am alone again
just the noises
keep it alive hide it
I – am – keeping – it – alive – !
I saw the ghostly stadium the neon beacon
(‘bulb needs changing. A flame would be much better)
people blurring past and through me
I held up my lamp but it lighted up nothing
people ran through it –
almost put the flame out
I died a living
active yet muffled
for ten years then
twenty not sure
how long and
every so often
I go mad
I have been in, but not part of, the stadium all this time.
It is here, all about and above creaking and flapping
I had thought it didn’t exist at all.
It is cardboard and canvas standing up
against the inevitable winds and snow.
So much construction, so little structure, so little warmth.
It is cold here in this wasteland.
I am still cold but I sit to one side now –
out of the way –
and try to stuff my ears to the noises the voices.
I still have a lamp. I try to keep warm by it.
I can’t see them – out in the night and cold –
but are there other souls wandering lost
feeling their way?
Is there anybody else out there?
Please come and join me over here.
If we sit together I can get quite a lot of heat
from this lamp. It is powered by …
Let’s see – what wounds have you got?