Poetry

The White Space

The forest calls out from its still centre to the leaf of the book  that came from its heart, in the silent scream of a shared creative agony

Bashabi Fraser

The white space

Is like a still lake

Undiscovered in

An emerald grove,

Its silence borne

From the depths

Of a forest

From which

It was torn –

The screams

Of death

Unuttered

But smothered

In our factories

And gathered

Into pages

Waiting to be

Ruffled into

Ripples that will

Shatter the surface

And reveal

The secret

Of sighs

Of rustling leaves,

The shooting

Desires of tendrils,

The wisdom

Of the dark bark

And the ambition

Of branches

Waiting to find

A voice to spill

Over and fill

The white space.

Wall in > Wall out

Bashabi Fraser

Do good walls make good neighbours?

And what is good about walls unless

They belong to my home

And cocoon me in against the elements,

Keeping me storm-free or unscorched,

Blanketed and private –

A space for me with my family,

Walls that stand between dignity

And life on the pavement.

But stand them up to embody

The shadow line of a political border,

Something that signifies the Other

As the intruder –

Walls that form the rampart

Of empire, of cold war, of occupation –

And create the enemy

Who is shut out, and cannot,

And definitely, should not impregnate it,

Shell it, crack it or cross it

Even if his brother lives

Or his farmland lies, or his mother’s grave,

And his fishing river and playmate tree

Exist beyond what he must see

As the territory of his enemy.

So while walls shut out

Suicide bombers, harvesters, employees

Of the starving free, they shut in

The wall-builder who cements fear

In brick and stone, in suspicion born

Of segregation that grows

Without association with the Other –

The unknown face of the foe

Which, if he had known intimately,

Could have removed walls from minds,

Discovering bonds in human kind

Instead of creating terror zones.

This Border

Bashabi Fraser

Can shadow lines on the earth’s surface divide language and literature, rituals and customs, rivers…and memories?

There was a time when you and I

Chased the same butterfly

Climbed the same stolid trees

With the fearless expertise

That children take for granted

Before their faith is daunted

Do you remember how we balanced a wheel

Down dusty paths with childish zeal

Do you remember the ripples that shivered

As we ducked and dived in our river

Do you remember what we shared

Of love and meals, and all we dared

Together – without fears

Because we were one

In all those years

Before we knew that butterflies

Were free to share our separate skies

That they could cross with graceful ease

To alight on stationary trees

On either side of this strange line

That separates yours from mine

For whose existence we rely

Entirely on our inward eye

This border by whose callous side

Our inert wheel lies stultified

This border that cuts like a knife

Through the waters of our life

Slicing fluid rivers with

The absurdity of a new myth

That denies centuries

Of friendships and families

This border that now decrees

One shared past with two histories

This border that now decides

The sky between us as two skies

This border born of blood spilt free

Makes you my friend, my enemy.

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One comment

  1. IN RESPONSE TO “THE WHITE SPACE”

    It is not like the mother
    -Worried, keen-
    Expecting her baby to be born
    For whom
    She will bear the pain,
    She will let blood spatter all over her body
    And accept the sudden loss
    Of the veins, the muscles, the skin
    She will hold her breath, fight-
    Just to hear her child cry
    -Cry out loud-
    And claim existence;
    A blank page
    Can also speak.
    Like the sky: dark and dull
    Without a moon, without stars
    Engulfs me sometimes
    Lulls me to lunacy
    And whispers about pendulums.
    But,
    Since you painted words
    And
    The words slept like pensive seeds
    Be sure, whenever
    A reader comes
    They wake up
    And form
    A secret, secret garden!

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