29 July 2012

Jane : A Shining Encounter : 1942

The forenoon was warm and the leaves around his new enclosure 
nodded like tired dancers in the lazy September breeze.
Lying in the sweet scented grass, his eyes closed
against the cloudless sky, Ming remembered 
the Jiajin Mountains of Sichuan, the place where he was born,
and the wide groves of tall bamboos
where he and his brothers had played and run free.

He remembered the cruel ungentle men who had seized him,
torn him awayfrom the den in the trees, the bamboos
and the wide flowing Chuan Jiang river.
Into a box he was pushed and onto a ship he was loaded,
across a vast ocean and to a great grey chill city he was taken,
imprisoned in a cage with bamboo a plenty,
but no brothers to play with, no mountain slopes to roam.

He sighed and slept until a persistant noise intruded on his sunlit dreams.
Blinking sleep heavy eyes, he saw a small creature wriggling
through a gap in the heavy wire fence, contorting its young body
around the jagged edges like a Chinese Cobra
emerging from its rocky lair in the foothills of Sichuan.
The panda stiffened, nervous of this invasion into his solitary world,
but the elfin child, with hair white as cotton in a field, smiled.

Like a magnet in a jar of pins, the hole in the fence had enticed Jane
from the safety of the rug on the grass into a magical land of dreams
where, as moonlight pierced the shadows of the night,
the nursery toys danced and sang beneath the glistening stars.
Her eyes fixed on the huge toy now come alive in the sunshine morning,
she clasped a large rock bun made moist with apple and honey,
trotted through the long grass and held out a petite hand.

In that moment of offering quiet and unfearful, she watched bewitched
as the great black furry paw moved slowly down to her small palm,
and gently, oh so gently, from her he took the sticky offering. 
Then “Time to go now, sweetheart”,  her father’s voice,
benign and clear as as a moorland beck in an empty evening,
summoned her quietly back to the rug on the grass
and the scruffy old toy with black patched eyes.  

Wearing a cloak of angelic innocence, face bright with undiluted joy,
her heart consigned the shining encounter to memory,
 which even her mother’s trembling anger could not destroy.
For thus would her perfect trust have been shattered,
and lost for ever the remembrance abiding in that moment
when the spinning globe hesitated on its axis,
earth and heaven combined, and the world stood still.


20 July 2012

The Great White Owl

 The Great White Owl

‘Let me fly with the great white owl,
give me strong poison’ she said,
‘and I will drink a draft
of blessed oblivion.
My strength is all but past,           
my time here now is done.’
But he had no strong poison
to give her, and she wept
that she must live another day.

‘Let me fly with the great white owl,
fetch me Nembutal’ she
entreated, ‘mix it with
honey and sweet white wine,       
and I will draw close at last
to death’s kindly sleep.’
But he had no Nembutal
to fetch for her, and she
cried out in her misery.

‘Let me fly with the great white owl,
bring me a gun’ she begged,
‘that I may find an end
to this  living death.’
But he had no gun
to bring to her and she turned           
her face away from him
that he might not see now
her ultimate despair.

‘Kiss me once’ she whispered,
‘and kiss me once again,
this be our  sweet good night.
Smother me with a pillow,
hold me close in your arms           
until all my breath is gone.
Give me a final blessing,
as you set me free
to fly at last with the great white owl.’

He kissed her once, he kissed
her gently once again.
He took up the pillow
and held it to her face,
clasped his arms about her           
until her struggles ceased,
and her soul’s soft whisper
bade him a faint adieu.
‘Go fly my love’ he said, ‘it is your time.’

Quietly he laid her down
grateful for her passing,
and looked out into the
long night’s mist grey ending
as the great white owl flew
with her departing soul,
while angels and morning
bright stars sang in chorus
and Love held out his arms in welcome.