01 July 2007

Kwame Dawes

[from Kwame Dawes's Impossible Flying, 2007]


The dirt track turns to marl in the wind tunnel
between Maternity — the pale yellow gowns of swollen
women, a constant slash of light through the gray
louvres — and the whitewashed ward where you are.
My heart grows as I walk by casually,
trying to pretend I have forgotten your eyes pleading
with me in the brightly lit greeting room,
pointing to the stumble and glossolalia
of the pretty girl who does not care that her breasts
are poking out of the too small hospital issue
green tunic. Around us the sterile slow pace
of medicated bodies. Like her, I imagine
that you don’t belong; I imagine you are too
astute, too collected for this; your pathologies
are civil things. And yet I see the scars
on your knuckles, and you drool, how you drool,
your tongue, not yours, just a clumsy lump
of meat in your mouth. You are telling me you need
to go, lucid as anyone I know, until you laugh,
reminding me of the morning I held you down,
tied your wings, did not have the faith;
and in that same clean logic, your eyes
stared steadily at me as you spoke in soft
conspiracy, I woulda be flying now,
you know that? I woulda be flying if you never
hold me down . . .
It has been a week
since I stopped. That last time the orderlies
told me of the straps you strained against,
the electricity, the padded walls, the shit
in your pants, the tears, as if you were
someone else, as if they needed me
to understand the lunatic’s dialect, as if
they saw in me the hubris of class, or the hope
of sanity; as if I did not understand
the commonness of tragedy. That day I did not stop.
I simply bowed my head and walked away
weeping, angry at my tears, at the noble sorrow —
as if it was me caught in this wrestle
with the chemistry of the head — the demon tyranny.
I wept (a good verb) like an actor, testing each mood,
swept, yes, by the passion of the narrative,
but consumed by the tragic consequence
of fear. I wept as I walked the stony path
to Papine, helpless like that. Tonight
is the seventh night I have walked past.
It becomes easier, now. I fear only
that you will see me going by, not stopping.
Maybe you will see my lips moving, praying
for the miracle promised — another vanity —
the scripted prophecy of my peace.

Impossible Flying

1 comment:

  1. Yes, Yes I bought this book today.
    He read a few poems, but I haven't had time to study it yet. I thought the younger brother had died...but maybe not. He's amazing.