Every day God pats my head and calls me
angel, his little broken woman
and gives me flowers as if I hadn’t had enough of these
and I choke back my rage and he mistakes this
for distress as I stand there shaking
in my little sackcloth dress.
Had I ever had the choice
I’d have worn a very different dress,
slit from breast to navel and far too tight
and I’d have smoked and sworn and been
out of my head on drugs, no grief, and the flowers
would have been a tatto around my ankle,
not an anchor to drag me down, and as for
being a virgin, I’d have slept with both men and women.
I would never recommend a shallow stream
and what was no more than a daisy chain
as being the ideal way to die.
It was far too pretty but I had to improvise
and I was a poet, far more so than him,
who threw out every word he ever thought
as if that might have kept his sorry life afloat.
I didn’t drown by accident. I was a suicide.
At least let me call my mind my own
even when my heart was gone beyond recall.
Today, a car crash might have been my final scene,
a black Mercedes in a tunnel by the Seine,
with no last words, no poetry,
with flashbulbs tearing at my broken body
because broken was the way I felt inside,
the cameras lighting up the wreckage of a life.
That would be, at least, have been an honest way to die.
Let’s Go Over It All Again
Some people are like that
They split up and then they think;
Hey, maybe we haven’t hurt each other to the uttermost.
Let’s meet up and have a drink.
Let’s go over it all again
Let’s rake over the dirt.
Let me pick that scab of yours
Does it hurt?
Let’s go over what went wrong-
How and why and when.
Let’s go over what went wrong
Again and again.
We hurt each other badly once.
We said a lot of nasty stuff
But lately I’ve been thinking how
I didn’t hurt you enough.
Maybe there’s more where that came from,
Something more malign.
Let me damage you again
For the shake of auld lang syne.
Yes, let me see you bleed again
For the shake of auld lang syne.
The light of our cigarettes
Went and came in the gloom:
It was dark in the little room.
Dark, and then, in the dark
Sudden a flash, a glow,
And a hand and a ring I know.
And then through the dark, a flush
Ruddy and vague, the grace-
A rose-of her lyric face.
Arthur Symons, Silhouettes.
For these children are, in spirit, not children. Their backs are bent, like those of old sages, by the memory of all the failures of their parents, and of all past generations. So much knowledge has been fed into them that there is very little they can admire with enthusiasm. All previous resolutions- the history books say so- have ended in disaster of one kind or another. The rising in Eastern Europe have revealed tragic problems: “We know too much about the world. We have lost our ideologies; we know they cannot be made to work in real life.” there are no foreign models any more, as China or Russia once were. Mandarine had been to England, but found it “too respectful”; the USA is “even worse”.
Personally she does have some ideals: equality is what matters most, democracy too, resistance to state oppression, but keeping the state’s role in culture and television; she is for demilitarisation but without abolishing the army; she wants to help the poor; she is in favour of change, but also afraid of change, and she doubts whether others want to change. So she does not attempt to convert or persuade. Her school is setting up committees to discuss very modestly how it wants its individual budget altered and what rights each group within it should have; its only ambition is to transform the school from an examination factory into a “place to live in”. The school has become the children’s other home; they accept it as they accept their own home; all they want is to try to make the best of it.
However, when Mandarine reveals her deeper thoughts, it emerges that it is not just general disillusionment that has made her so different from her utopian parents. She is on very friendly terms with her father, who was a Maoist in 1968 and who does the cooking at home; when she made the posters for her demonstration, he said to her, “That is not the way to make posters,” he had produced marvellous ones in his youth; and they laughed a lot redoing them. But the crucial difference is that Mandarine has no confidence in herself. “I am not creative. I do not feel I am a capable person. Perhaps I lack ambition.” And why? “Because there is less risk in having limited ambitions.”
Theodore Zeldin, An Intimate History of Humanity.
Y para Cristina.
Loving the rituals that keep men close,
Nature created means for friends apart:
Pen, paper, ink, the alphabet,
sings for the distant and disconsolate heart.