Saturday, November 22, 2008

Graham High: FAN BLADES

chanting from the mosque—
the hotel ceiling fan
rocks in its socket

It is mid-day and sweltering. Even in Sri Lanka it is seldom this hot. I am lying on my back watching the ceiling fan. My mind drifts, begins to churn. As I get sucked into the creaking blur of blades a random memory stabilises the swell, like a kind of ballast. It is an image from the film ‘Apocalypse Now’. I remember the opening shots: helicopter rotor blades cross cut with a ceiling fan. There is the sound of distant gunfire.

A mosquito disturbs my reverie. I get up and walk to the window. The silver river flanked by paddy fields that I watched last night as I waited for fruit bats is now ablaze with sunlight. The palms and ferns between the earthen houses are of the most vivid green. But now there is something else. A patch of blackness amongst all that light. There has been a disturbance over night. Some Moslem youths have beaten up a Sinhalese lad. It seems the boy died this morning and now some Sinhalese are taking their revenge.

a Muslim store aflame—
black smoke is framing
the Bodhi tree.

I am overwhelmed by the beauty of this country. Its lush greenness, its profusion of birds and creatures, it’s blithe and compassionate people. That paradise should be the setting for such racial tensions and civil disorders disturbs me. I can’t make the images fit. It is as if perverted pathways are being laid down in my brain.

I go to the writing table as if I had something to say, something to write down, but I need a kind of comfort that a pencil cannot give.
fan blades stir the air—
soft fringe of the table cloth
strokes my other hand

I flop back on the bed and yield to the fan blade’s homogenising blur.

There is the sound of distant gunfire.

I swat the mosquito—
my hand spotted
with my own blood
[1] The Bodhi tree is the tree under which the Buddha, Siddhartha, found enlightenment. All Bodhi trees, which are found in most Buddhist temples, are held to be derived from this original tree.

by Graham High
Blackheath, West Midlands, England

No comments: