Between the Bricks

Meanderings of a grown up girl

Category: Poetry

Water

I tread upon the ancient earth
Of mountains rising far and wide,
Where life itself to life gave birth,
And gods and goddesses reside.

I dip my cup and bow my head
To drink of sweetest water,
In honour of ancestral dead,
Your grateful Himalayan daughter.

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Swim Strong My Son

 

What is this tranquil scene upon a lotus pond
that stretches far and wide,
and captures all the silence in one breath?
A painted canopy of rural life,
transformed of horrors beyond belief,
to cool blue calm,
a past – hushed,
thrust to distant times,
beyond reach,
no place,
no space
within the pause of this most pleasant scene.

As swallows dart and dive and dip their wings,
skimming the fluid surface,
and pristine white butterflies glide gently on a luscious breeze,
fluttering from one soft grass to another,
the water,
smooth and dark,
glassy,
embroidered with islands of succulent green,
embellished from time to time with blooms of deepest pink,
soothes them all.

Here and there humankind skims the surface too,
in search of life within.
Aquatic dreams fit for half-clad fishermen,
who cast their bamboo rods from bamboo stilts,
and bend like bamboo switches eager for an evening catch,
knowing the sun will fall within the hour,
when everything transforms,
when soft blue light of day yellows,
and yellow fades to orange and orange again transforms;
and when the pink light comes,
the fisherman,
for now just one remains,
knowing,
as he does so every day,
as his father taught him
and he now his son,
that when the pink light comes,
when the pink light comes – make haste.

Make haste my son,
do not delay,
for twilight wraps her cloak,
She casts her shadows far and wide upon us fisherfolk.
Her patience does not tarry,
she paints the evening black,
make haste my son to lift these fish upon your lithesome back.
Home cooking fires await you,
your ma awaits you too,
she beckons with a homeward song:
My legacy, my life, my love, my son,
Swim strong my son swim strong.

 
(From Travels Across Cambodia)

I Am Not My Name

I am not my name today.
The name that crawled into tiny spaces,
The name that knew before the first word was uttered,
when simply knowing was still enough.

I am not my name today.
The one I never belonged to,
When belonging mattered – and love.
The one that crouched between the bricks,
That hid in bathrooms,
Makeshift safe havens under lock and key.

I am not that name that knelt on pebbled beach when mummy wept,
Not knowing why.
No knowledge of her pain,
No premonition of my own pain yet.

I am not that name that screamed and stamped, bewildered
by loss and grief, confusion
not permitted to express.
No more words, no sound,
Just silent lips and body for one whole year –
Though not in head!

I am not the name that felt the shadows pass.
The ones that trespass night and day,
Tempting a glimpse of other worlds.
Nor that name,
Arrived from distant lands
with foreign tongue and other’s recollections.

I am not the name that fell short of love and loving in return.
Or the name that long ago zipped up the bubble from the inside – the safe side –
Gazing out, gazed at unwelcome,
And most definitely never heard!

I am not the name that ruined everything
because everything felt too good to be true!
Deserve?
Such an inconceivable word!

I am not the name that shared a life created.
A tiny life, a momentary life
just visiting.
Ripped from womb,
A womb transformed into a tomb,
Cold, stone, closed.

I am not my name today,
Nor any other name,
Not this one, not that one,
The one I sometimes prefer,
Nor the one I supposed was mine,
Though now I know that neither are.

These names I did not choose.
They are not mine.
I am not my name today.
I do not need to be named.

I am spent

I am spent,
I am invisible now, to all
save those with eyes to see.

I do not mind,
I’ve lived a thousand years, and now
I see how it is meant to be.

And though,
I sometimes long for what I do not know
and cannot be,
I recall the words he spoke –
Accept, accept, accept!

He spoke them thrice and three times I heard,
Accept, accept, accept!

Do not cry.
Do not shed tears.
Accept, accept, accept!

Birdsong

There is a breath that takes us to the end,
But not today my friend, not today!

Today is full of birdsong and sunlight
and a warm soft breeze that whispers in my ear…
“I’ll tell you a story if you want to listen.”

Oh I do, I do, I do!

Giant bamboo dances to the story of the breeze,
Swaying, gently at first and then with wild abandon.

I want to dance wildly like bamboo! I long to abandon myself too…
No self, no me, no need to be,
Just nothing is enough.

Birds sing of far away places,
Of winged adventures,
Of a life short lived,
Though courageous.

Take me with you little bird.
I will close my eyes and follow you.
I will dream your dreams along the way
as we fly beyond.

There I will stay…drifting…until it is my last breath,
But not today my friend, not today.

 

Mae Mut, 3 December, 2017 (Edited)

Together

Give me your hand and I will dance with you!
I will smile and laugh and sing with you!
I will cry with you, and then
I will dry your tears.
And when it’s time for you to choose
to unlock a different door,
I will walk with you.
This I will do if you take my hand.
For when you give me yours,
You take mine.

(Sharpham, 16 October, 2017)

Songs of the Lilly

There is a lily in a pond that sings to me
a song of love and peace and golden times
when man held hands with man because he understood.
He understood that connection is stronger than separation
and acceptance of differences profoundly more rewarding than dismissing others,
because they are not other.
There is no other!

There is a lily in a pond that sings to me across the water
a mournful song of longing.
A longing for an end to hate-filled rhetoric, of cunning and unabashed ignorance,
of machinations designed to blind, divide and splinter all that was once whole,
was content with that wholeness.

There is a lily in a pond that sings to me
songs that break my heart into tiny precious pieces.
Seven billion fragments of blood and tears,
of sweat and bone and pain and courage,
of perseverance, compassion and everything in-between.
Of good and bad and right and wrong,
of male and female and everything in-between.
Every fragment is part of me too,
but when there is division I am not whole –
and I want to be whole again!

There is a lily in a pond that sings to me
a song of remembrance of who I am – and of you,
and who we are together.
You are not other.
I am not other.
There is no other.
Sing louder lily, I beg you sing louder!
Sing louder so that more may hear and pause and see and understand and then,                     only then, this bleeding heart can rest and bleed no more.

RENAISSANCE

I took back my breath today!
I gasped, and air as sweet and pure as the first day, filled my lungs
and I looked.
Clouds wrote in the sky.
They told me dusk was drawing near. Soon, not yet but soon, I still had time.
So I stopped a while and looked – and when I looked I saw.
A Sun, as bold and bright and white as any light I’d seen,
Angelic rays encompassed valley wide.
And every minute blade of grass in every mound and trough surrendered, peaceful, content to bathe in early evening glory.
Gentle mountains, undulating hills of green,
Hues of emerald and olive, sage and lime – and more – rolled out in grainy texture.
Such comfort for my eyes! Respite for my soul – unencumbered.

I took back my breath today – and gasped again for you!
What do you see now? What do you feel now? Who hands you succour in this age of crisis, grief, violation and death?
I am so sorry. I am so sorry it cannot be you, too!
I long for you to view this same vista,
My sister. My sister. My sister!
I long for greens and blues and gentle browns to take the place of black shrouds and jagged grey of rubble and all that’s broken; and blood stained garments.

I stopped a while and looked – and when I looked I saw.
That every minute blade of grass, in every mound and trough, emblazoned in bright white light bore
your names…

Women of Syria, I bow down to you!
Women of Iraq, I bow down to you!
Women of Palestine, I bow down to you!
Women of Afghanistan, I bow down to you!
Women of Iran, I bow down to you!
Women of Israel, I bow down to you!
Women of Pakistan, I bow down to you!
Women of Kurdistan, I bow down to you!
Women of Burma, I bow down to you –
Women of Somalia, I bow down to you,
Women of Central African Republic, I bow down to you!
Women of the Congo, I bow down to you,
Women of Sierra Leone, I bow down to you!
Women of Mali, I bow down to you!
Women of Nigeria and your lost daughters, I bow down to you!
Women of Rwanda, I bow down to you!
Women of Thailand, I bow down to you!

Women
of every ethnicity, in every nation, of every age, every struggle,
Every displaced, abused, violated, murdered – grandmother, mother and child,

I see you, I see you, I see you!
I see for you,
I breathe for you!

(Chiang Mai, Thailand, 28th September, 2014)

Buzzard buzzard soaring high,                                                                                                                 Take me with you in the sky.                                                                                                                             Help me lose myself and I.

The Hands of Woman

Long and slender
Symbols of perfection,
Elegance manifested with manicures of the French variety,
Or neon gels
And bling that teeters impossibly on tips of fingers.
Zany, gaudy designs all,
A little dash of sparkle here and there.
For others a natural sheen,
A mere touch or sprinkle of glamour,
Not wishing to appear too frivolous.

Chubby digits – just as perfect!
Childlike,
A clumsy grapple behind the ear.

Others large, attractive, with masculine span,
Not so unrefined! Bony knuckles protrude nonetheless.
Fingers broad and palm broader,
Square in shape, firm and strong,
Reliable and calming,
Ultimately practical,
Enabling others to feel safe,
Even if tentative at times, unsure of sex appeal,
Though playing with hair takes place coquettishly enough.

And these? Petite, oh so petite!
Soft and fragile, seeking protection,
Crying out to be grasped firmly, follow my leader,
No decisions to make.

See here dark and calloused skin,
Most beautiful,
Revealing toil and struggle,
Cooking, cleaning, tending of one day followed
By another and another.
Endless exasperation,
Hopeless resignation that must be borne.
Rough, scratched and sore,
Tired,
A chance to rest only when ceaseless demands cease.

And what of the beginning,
When those gender present hormones have yet to hatch?
When still the tiny delicateness of femininity captured in minuscule nails,
Pure and innocent,
Provides no concept of place,
Of prison, or palace or power yet to come?
Curling lightly,
Clinging when offered something safe to grip,
The aching, swollen limbs of twilight so far away.
She does not know that with one blink,
Just one blink and soon it will appear.

And there she is, waiting to be called,
Skin, a little gnarled in places, as thin as rice paper,
Mottled brown with age in spots,
And veins apparent.
Still nimble if demanded, yet
Unsteady, shaky,
The frustration of losing control,
Less firm of grip no matter how determined of soul.

No more need to orchestrate the keys of words or music,
To knead the bread of life,
Or pluck sweet roses that caused surprising pain from time to time.

No more braids to plait,
No more ribbons to tie,
No more hair to stroke,
No more tears to wipe,
No more snot to clean or brows to smooth,
No more shoulder to calm or back to gently rub,
No more fruit to pick from shelf or tree,
No more needles to click or pin to point,
No more cup to hold nor pen,
No more innocent to cradle or beloved to caress,
No more pot to carry,
No more burden to drag or lift or hold,
Nothing more to touch, to feel or sense,
Nothing more, save endless sleep,
As weary hands of woman – stop.

And finally, lay down to rest.