Daily Archives: September 16, 2016

Before my memory

My father’s roll of selotape
was slightly rippled, as if from the damp
and I couldn’t remember a time
when it had looked any different.
Although he used it, it never seemed to shrink.

One day he told me it had been in his possession
for twenty years,
thereby joining a reel of elastoplast
and a plethora of other items
for which he claimed two decades.

I had lived for less than half that period, and yet
my past was an indefinable eternity;
with markers where I had achieved so many things.
I had learned to read;
broken my ankle;
gashed my head open against a stone wall;
and climbed the singing tree,
to swing on a branch with my brother Neil.

I examined my father’s roll of selotape
and concentrated until my head hurt
in an effort to imagine any kind of existence
before my memory;
but all I could see was a blank, leaden space
with neither sun, moon or stars to brighten the sky.

©Jane Paterson Basil

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Fortune of birth

Who are we to close the gates
and refuse you entry?
who are we to claim this land
we have borrowed by fortune of birth?
how can any of us say it is our inheritance?
It belongs no more to us than to the wolves
and wildcats we anihilated so long ago,
or the crow circling an abandoned pastry in the gutter,
carelessly dropped from the hand of a man
who took more than he required.
I hear him now, whining about greedy seagull antics;
wailing that he can’t afford a holiday
because he’s just had a new kitchen fitted;
whinging that immigrants are parasitic.
His indignant belly threatens to break the zip
separating the word Ever from Last,
as he grinds a sodden fag-butt beneath his Nike shod toe
and slinks to the jobcentre with his sick note,
before slipping to work where they pay cash
and no questions are asked.

You arrive, hungry and confused,
your status robbed by cruel circumstance,
in need of some human kindness.
The government knows it can make
a tidy profit from your citizenship,
but it admits you in the name of charity
and in the name of charity you are herded
into asylum seekers’ hell;
grey prisoners in grey prisons, with no rights
and often no grasp of our language,
treated like criminals;
your only crime being misfortune.

The man collects his dole
and goes home to his cosy life,
to read the lies the tabloids tell,
while you try to settle in a de-humanising cell
in a country that tells you to go.

Who am I, and who is that man,
to say we should close the gates
and refuse you entry?
Who are we to claim this land
we have borrowed by fortune of birth?

This humble offering was inspired by M. Zane McClellan’s wonderful poem Captcha ~ I Am Human

Also please check out Not Me My Friend by Gbolabo Adetunji,

©Jane Paterson Basil

Feather

feather-1626492_1280.jpg

one grey feather;
an essential component
constructed of delicate fronds
that, like a zipper, gently interlock
on two opposite sides
of a pointed spine.

one lonely feather,
alienated from its design
to keep a bird warm and dry
and lend a lightness to its flight,
sinks, untrammelled,
in the steely sky.

one tiny feather;
floating in the sky;
dancing for its freedom;
swirling in the mild firmament,
being manipulated; mindlessly lifted
by the changeling wind’s whispering might,
in a losing battle for a feather so light;
just for an instant it appears
to be putting up a brave fight,
but the wind has lost interest
and is off to find a new game,
leaving the grey feather
to sink,spinning,
to the earth.

One fallen feather
held between my fingers,
one used-up, beautiful thing;
a single constituent of the wing,
an intrinsic piece of the jigsaw;
as valuable as a leaf, a bee
a whale, or an elephant,
and equally crucial;
equally strong;
ultimately
fragile.

feather-grey161.jpg

Written for The Daily Post #Fragile

©Jane Paterson Basil