Saturday, May 31, 2008

Another Day in Paradise

Maryam Sakeenah

Just another day with its crippling sameness
That makes criminals of you and me_
Harmless; You can let us walk about on the loose.
It serves- that iron bitt in the mouth-
That keeps the unspoken, the unheard Word
Stuck in the throat.
We the lost herd: Lost-
But without a Loss
To wound the heart, to bloody it, to ennoble;
A losing without the Loss, the Pain…
Or with one too great to make itself felt
In the empty spaces that make us.
We are free, you know.
What though the wings that make us soar be clipped?
We are the Earthbound. And earth does not grow wings,
No, not the stony rubbish of the Wasteland.
There are gods on high-
Feeling forever the tail between the legs,
The feet of clay.
‘Dust to dust…’ 
Little gods, creepy-crawly
But gods all right:
For ‘they shall inherit the earth.’
Per force.
Their decree makes us free- 
Democracy, human rights, ‘laissez faire’
Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.’
All that jazz.
‘Man is condemned to be free.’-
To feel the tail between the legs,
The feet of clay.
The tin rooftop comes sloping down like a vault,
And over it, from afar, a cry is heard-
Muffled, quivering, broken-
Like from another world
Somewhere in the world-
But not in here…
In here
We are free!
Like birds in gilded cages
In here it is warm with the gas-fire
And the central electric heating-
The trappings of civilization
That subsume our reality.
If you shut the window, the cold draught with its steely stab
Won’t come in.
Shut the window.
Don’t let the gale in,
For it might bring bits and pieces of the world-
The glass and stone, wood and plastic in burnt fragments
And maybe,
A spattering of reddened dust- Blood Red-
To hurt the eyes
And shatter the little fiction
That keeps us comfy
Near the warm hearth (well-insulated),
With news alerts flashing on the telly
So rhythmically.
And a coffee-table copy of the Washington Post
Telling of far-off places, distant lands-
‘People we do not know.’
But they look so much like me!
My eyes, my body, my throbbing heart, my battered soul…
Why, oh why?
Not my race, nor colour, skin nor country.
Faraway tales of the faraway folk.
The woman there, mirrors a pain I have felt, known too well!
The dark lonely child has the stars in his eyes…
Not yet dimmed by Death’s fell sweep..
Why, oh why?
I am In Here.
Listening to the comforting drone of the air conditioner
Here and Now. All I will ever need, ever want.
A square yard of the earth to bury myself in
And bide my time.
In Here I am safe,
I am the free citizen
Like the bird in the richly gilded cage
The song of the soul
Stuck in the throat.