Tuesday, 3 April 2007
Broken Pots and Fantails
I guess in one way or another, we are all a bit like broken pots.
This poem is about someone who was broken in a way that no-one would choose. I wrote it today after having seen last night's '60 Minutes' about a New Zealand woman who spent eleven years in the infamous womens prison in Bankok.
She said what she did was silly, reckless,
unwise. She was bored. Needed excitement.
Bankok, mid-nineties, too tantalising
to turn down just before she turned forty.
All she had to do to pay for her trip
was to carry a small package back home.
She didn’t know what was strapped to her leg
but thought she was safe. Who would suspect her,
a grandmother? When caught she remembers
saying, “Oh, is that heroin?” And then,
“So that’s what it looks like.” From there it was
a short, sharp trip to the ‘Bankok Hilton’
with its filth, mud, rats and lack of shelter
from the rain. Where you had to fight and scrap
for some space and a place to keep your shoes
from floating away. Where she watched her friend
die of Aids. Each year her father travelled
over to visit until she said, don’t
anymore Dad. After eleven years,
the king granted her a pardon. Back home
and on ‘60 Minutes’ it is the shame
she says that is the hardest thing to bear.
But thankful now for things like clean showers
and for glass and how it keeps out the rain.
The rain. As water runs down glass, she’s filmed
standing behind it, her face dissolving
as the rain pours down in absolution.
(In this poem I have used the Poetry Thursday prompt of 'absolve'.)
All day today I have been trying to catch a fantail - or piwakawaka. On camera that is.
This is my sister's photo of one. (Go here to see more of her beautiful photos.)
Our cat Grommet has also been trying to catch a fantail - but NOT on camera. This is him looking down at me as he pleads - no, demands might be more to the point, just look at that expression! - to be rescued from the roof.
I left him there for an hour, figuring if he got up, he should be able to get down again. He's not a light cat and we could hear him thundering around going from side to side, mewing piteously. Silly feline. So of course, in the end, I had to haul him down. I'm sure he was up there because he could hear the fantails squeaking. In the end, I had to be content with a poem and no photo. (Unlike my sister and her partner, I can't seem to photograph birds.)
there is no other word for it,
you dancer, you yo-yo,
as if on the end
I look to see what you want
and yes, there
dark specks in lit air
like floaters in a bad eye.
All day your squeaks a wet finger
your beige undercarriage
ballast for your black-and-white
tail feathers’ aerial feats.
Yours is an ancient spiral,
a dance that reminds what
has not changed
between the first waka*
and the last.
Between when all was empty
green and now, here,
where you float over
ground ashen with cities
the colour of death.
* waka - a Maori canoe. The maori arrived in New Zealand (Aotearoa) by waka. It is said the bird piwakawaka - fantail - was so-named because it was the first bird to welcome the first waka. And these little, dancing birds do appear to welcome us, but in actual fact when they flit about very close to our heads, they are really chasing the tiny flying insects that have been disturbed by our movements.
(The word 'spiral' comes from PT's prompt for the second day of the Poem-a-day challenge for April.)
And here is another autumn reminder. Perennial berries of the cotoneaster plant. Pronounced coton-e-aster - instead, I always like to pronounce it 'cotton-easter' seeing as the berries always appear around Easter.
Maybe it can also be a prompt for the next poem - using PT's prompt of 'perennial'. But that will have to keep for tomorrow.