Sad eyes stare at the world outside,
iron bars lock you in. Four thick walls
mark your space. This is all you
have and nothing more. Proud strong
woman from my homeland you live
imprisoned in a web of lies they
churn out for money from crowds
that come to ogle as you stare
out of your cell with lonely gaze.
Your feet hold scars of neglect yet
the pain in your heart
can never be seen by those that claim
you are well. There’s no one in that space
that can share your grief. You hide it inside
as you have all these years. Can you
still speak oh woman of my land?
Do you understand the words
your ancestors spoke, recall the stories they
whispered to you as a child? Do you yearn
to walk across the lands they owned,
feel the breeze on your skin
once more as it blew warm and free?
Remember your life long ago dear friend,
in that far away place divided by earth
and sea. You roamed with your
family, played in the woods,
picked up trunkfuls of earth that you
smeared on yourself, bathed in rivers deep
and narrow as the fish swam below between
your feet. Remember the days, you walked
with the herd across vast tracts,
brown and green and azure up above.
They promised you happiness
the day you were sent as a gift yet all
you got was this prison lonely
and sad. Solitary confinement yet you
committed no crime. How long will this last?
Every day you die
a little and every day the lies grow strong.
Driving Down Galle Road
Did you see the dead walking
along the shore last night? Or hear
the mournful wails of souls
caught up in limbo? They came ashore
from the bottom of the sea that stole them
many years ago. Branches of the
coconut trees shivered as they stood
swaying in the balmy nights’
breeze. The lone dog howled from the
house many miles inland. He seemed to
sense all was not right. Was
he the only one to know of your
presence? Did others inside houses not
know? Or were they tired of it all? Lost
souls wrenched away by the sea so long ago
now coming ashore to call on the living,
asking for things they couldn’t
get in their life. Taken away too soon,
before they could begin to live.
Borne away by the roaring waves away, away
many fathoms into the deep. They now
cry to return, unfinished lives, unfinished
business but the seas only roar
as they hover about on land. Waiting.
(Galle Road is a major highway that connects the
capital Colombo with the city of Galle in Sri Lanka)
Questions Left Unanswered
A head in the drain, he tried to
understand why. They took him in for
questioning, dragging him out of the house.
A rude awakening. Fifteen years of
but can you really know
someone? He thought he did until they told
him about the head, bloodied and severed
from the impact lying in the drain
and the many lives lost on the street. She
stopped the rush hour traffic
with her swift movements. Nothing
remained except pieces of lives swimming
on the street and soaking into the earth
to disappear the next day. The numbers
could only be imagined. The hole
in the ground,
smoke on the air and the smell
of burning, burning. He sits in the front
room of the house they once
shared unable to go inside as the memories
have shattered into tiny fragments.
They lie scattered across the floor
like the flowers of the Sepalika tree in the early
morning dew. He wonders at it all
trying to understand while in the jungles far
else is groomed to take her place.
Dream of the Housemaid
Returning home on a stretcher, a
plane ride to the desert many
months ago gone so wrong. You got much
more than you bargained for with a salary paid
in nails. Hard as hell. Forced inside, damming your
veins, piercing bones, rotting, festering. Tears
all dried up you came back
in pain. Dreams shattered, leaving them
scattered in the sands for scavengers to feast.
The oil merchant’s wife made sure of it. There was
something she didn’t like, or maybe he didn’t like
being rejected. Wasn’t used to it. They
held you down on a chair in the kitchen
writhing and howling in pain, nails
hammered in, one at a time. Your hands,
your feet as you cried out in vain.
Stuffed some down your throat until you were too full
of it all. The X-rays back home confirmed,
but oh the shame. No one believed. No one.
Your story was good, made the news
that night and the next day too. Everyone had
something to say. But no one believed. The press
was amused; you made it all up, someone
sniggered. Couldn’t handle the pressure, the agency
that sent you grumbled and ignored your plea.
Said you did it for a piece of fame; time in the spotlight.
But what a show. You got nothing, nothing. Alone on
a hospital bed swathed in bandages stuffed with
medication they stare and talk in whispers as you
recollect the journey to the Middle East, oasis
of the poor. You went to make money,
like everyone else in the village, build a house,
educate your three children waiting at home
with their grandmother. Your husband
a drunkard, he couldn’t keep a job, so you
took over. They had to live. But all you got were
nails beaten in like Jesus that day. Yet where’s
your cross? Where are your followers?
Money gone, dignity in shreds you yearn to return
as unfulfilled dreams refuse to leave tugging
at your heart calling, calling
come finish what you started.
I’m bored with this life.
Can I go home? But where is
home? How do I get there? Which bus
do I take? Do I fly instead, or can
the road take me there through
its twists and turns? And if I fall along
the way will you lift me
up? Give me new shoes and food
to eat and a place to stay. Will you come
with me, or do you stay behind?
Alone. I could do with some company
on my way there. To nowhere. To
where I don’t know. For I
cannot read a map and you can.
It’s as simple as that.
bowing. I saw her
move many years ago. It
seemed like yesterday, or so
my memory said. Blue stripes
on loose white covered skin
and bone too young to look
like that. Old and gnarled
like the trees in the
garden somewhere nice.
She steadied her
arm and lifted again.
The star gleamed on
translucent skin. I
black with numbers
to count. Her days
were numbered. One.
She knew. I saw.
The music rose
from her bow. She
played. They played
with her. I tried to follow.
Another day to live.
Cold, shivering, yet the
bow moved up then
down as the music
moved the audience to
tears. Medals gleamed,
while hearts bled, yet
she lived another day.
While all around fell
to his command.