The air is full of burnt smog
and paths are crisscrossed with briars.
The clinging air fades
as I walk to the bitter lake.
I imagine your reflection beside mine
and I dip my hands in to cup some water.
I offer you a cup of these bitter tears.
The door is opened
the principle stands there
with the look of thunder on her face.
I can see her scanning the room.
The children are in full revolt
as books fly, tables are moved
from this tornado of hate
shouting at them in sheer frustration.
Their mockery brings up all my childhood pain.
The grand crack of fits.
Later in the office
I am admonished like a little child
out of control.
I want to scream
that she is impossible to work under,
that I get no support
but she gives me the deaf ear.
A dog runs around the school,
let loose by some neighbour,
and barks at the windows of the school.
The Still Point
The shadows of the oak trees
are broken into blobs.
The wind rushes over the surface
and pondweed carpets the lake floor.
Ravens go in their autumnal circles.
I dawdle here a little
as my house is empty.
Its walls are my companions.
My usual chair tries to comfort me.
The fridge hums to fill the cool space.
I listen to the waves through the boughs
and I say yes to my worries:
a written reprimand from my stiff boss,
a brush off text from a supposed date,
an unexpected bill arriving at my door.
Then a sudden brightening,
the sun glistening on the pond
and the ripples criss-cross over and over.
1st September 2014
The summer comes to a clanging close.
Gas rises up within me and my internal pipes bang.
I imagine the faces of children I have yet to get to know.
They scare the inside of my head.
My stomach just isn’t even there
and fear gnaws at me.
I lie on my bed and the damn clock
snicks time away closer to the first day.
Do the other children lie in their beds
wondering what kind of teacher they are getting?
Will he be kind to them if they forget?
Will they kept in detention often?
The statue of the Buddha sits in the corner.
I know what he would say
‘Just say yes to all of this.’
I want the darkness to douse
the coming day and make my torments
vanish into soft daydreams.
Chatting to teachers in the staffroom makes it worse.
The school principal is breezily indifferent.
Children play hopscotch on the yard.
My stomach drums, drums in the deep.
I cannot get out. A shadow passes over me.
The bell goes. They are coming.
Hot air and chalk dust rise.
The window looks out to the playing fields.
I am gasping for fresh air.
Our class are reading a love story,
a predictable dance of chaser and chased.
Either the man will get his woman or not.
We move on to study the poems of Oscar Wilde.
No mention is made of the deeper current
of another kind of love.
Between the lines, I search for my story.
Sunlight hazes through the stained glass windows.
With a clamorous peal, the priest holds up the Easter host.
In a low mumble, we mouth the words.
The sermon preaches about love, obedience
and the inclusive embrace of the Church.
Sitting in the pew
I weigh how my kind of love
and the Church is on a crash course.
We return home.
Nothing is discussed but we lunch pleasurably.
My news this evening was greeted
as if the house had burnt in a flash.
Brown tea drops dry on my mother’s cup.
My father looks at the pattern on the kitchen floor.
“We never had an inkling!”
“Why did you choose that way?”
I chose it as much as I chose the colour of my skin.
I slip into the pub with my boyfriend,
People give a nod and a wink.
We are ghosts
and must not hold hands here
give a peck on the cheek
or say anything about our lives.
I want to pride myself down the street
scream to the rooftops what I do in the bedroom.
Instead, I drink my pint and engage in chit chat.
The nightclub is pulsing.
Sweat and long kisses hold the air.
Statues line the wall
and the beautiful men stand like them.
Assessment at a glance,
heads turned away, little cliques formed.
Louis Vuitton bags, Chanel perfume,
nipples peek through Gucci T-shirts.
I hold up my placard
outside the parliament railing.
We are demonstrating
to have our love recognised equally.
Over the loudspeaker, we chant
and sing songs of resistance.
The rain comes and it feels
like a promise of more progress to come.
On TV a representative of the government
tells us that our demands must wait.
Today I gaze into a cracked mirror to find my true self.
The Dream Tree
The sky is dark with fear
with the moon a yellow parachute
making shadows long.
Salena is with her two children in the bathroom
before bedtime. Badriya and Amin wash their face,
then the car bomb goes off.
Salena runs, squeezing their hands.
Her shoes stick in the mud
then she abandons them.
Reaching a border post, they are refused entry
since they lack paperwork.
Salena gives the guard an unspoken favour.
She tells Badriya and Amin about the dream tree.
It sways its branches when you sing to it
and it makes your dreams come true.
The moon shines over the campsite,
a forest of yellow plastic sheets.
Badriya and Amin stand with a sheet between them
touching the outline of their faces.