Sunday, 21 April 2013

NaPoWriMo Day 21: Memory like fire, whirling from the wasteland

I read T. S. Eliot's The Wasteland for the first time this weekend and was absolutely spellbound by it. This is a response of sorts to it.

Memory like fire, whirling from the wasteland

There was a time when there was something dark in me,
like the void that feeds on colour.
You could put your ear to my chest
think you'd heard my heart
it was the dark.
Forcing out something thick and crude
to well in my capillaries
collect under the skin
where it burned each day
until my mind prayed
to revel with Maenads
and beg for excoriation.

I can't remember how it was worked loose.
I would guess a human hand
with warmth and patience
and something
agreed for a time
as love.

Like a cool flame, Temptation
would have me forget.
Like it would have me forget
                   the softness of thighs.
                   So the wish to relive
                   feels not like desire
                   but something vital
                   for this puppet form
                   to jerk its strings.
Would have me forget
                   there is a part of me
                   that drags its slimy belly
                   down rats' alley
                   that knows and delights
                   in what took the bones
                   of those dead men.

But the dark in me that once held court
like the void which feeds on colour
is part of this puppet form,
its past, present and future.
Just as you would not pierce an eye
to release a viewpoint down your cheek
as vitreous humour
you would not silence that resource
that speaks other tongues
that leads you down passages of poetry
so you might know how the dark
manifested in a man a century ago
(Who would kept telling,
retelling the sermon of fire
to the ear-less wasteland)
and guide you out again.
Like the prophet who knew both sides of the vice.
Leaving no taints but something richer;
footprints of a precarious middle way.

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