THE HUMAN CONDITION

fire and water
Image Gwen Magog ‘Breaking Waves’

Your arms reach out from the flames
in self-obsessed supplication
a foreigner to compassion
you implore me to burn
while beneath your melting feet
dead wood crumbles to grey
and even the scorpions scatter.
Above your thrashing form
the oak tree gives shade
to your blistering body,
yet bends a rescuing branch
for me to catch and to climb.
I curl amongst fungi and flies
as vultures, snakes and rats
clamber to be part of the story.

Rain feeds and nourishes
teasing young buds to green
extinguishing the deathly pyre.
You are wet ashes
and so I live again
leaping across meadows
spinning a freedom dance
until the flood re-captures me
enraptures and distracts me
with fish flapping foolery
it sucks at me and sinks me
mocking my mis-spent emotion
and when I plead for amnesty
it shruggingly slings me aside
speaking sly words in my head
“You only had to ask.” it said.

Face down
mud choked
foam gathering around my parched mouth
grit grating the skin between my toes
I lie thirsting for salvation
to slake my parched and swollen throat.

At the first swallow
I know I am alive

© Jane Paterson Basil

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13 thoughts on “THE HUMAN CONDITION

  1. Jane, this is a great poem, rich in imagery and insightful observation. Here are some lines that I especially loved:

    / and even the scorpions scatter.
    / . . .as vultures, snakes, and rats / clamber to be part of the story.
    / At the first swallow / I know I am alive

    Thank you!
    ~pat

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. My favourite thing about writing is how, every so often, that hidden nugget of brain which we are always trying to access – the bit that instinctively pieces together the perfect phrase – surfaces and does it’s job without referring to the rest of the brain.

      came from there

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a striking opening:

    Your arms reach out from the flames
    in self-obsessed supplication
    a foreigner to compassion
    you implore me to burn

    I too love the imagery, and the fire to water, death ro life cycle. Very cool!

    Liked by 1 person

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