Prodigal Son

@KaremIBarratt

oxen

 

How does a mother turn away the corpse of her son, denying her child a last embrace, blinded by pride, blinded by pain, by the anger at gods and men who took and broke her babe, his own stubbornness, disobedience, prodigal son, not listening to his mother’s supplication, betraying his flesh and blood, all that he was, all that she stood for, siding with the opposition, crafters of their ultimate end? How can a mother forgive and forget the one she loved the most, the one who betrayed, broke her, changed her, cast her aside for siren songs and political chess? How can she? How could she? No one knows.

She turned away the cart, driven by oxen, her child at the back, as the old nurse cried, begged and asked for her to let him in, to lay to rest in the family domain, the ancient crypt where the father, the brother, the sister also lay, his blood, his flesh, the fathers of the fathers, the creator of their name. But she said no. She said she had no child; she said she had no son, no beautiful young man with the eyes of the sun, full of ideals and a hunger for noble pursuits, adventure, what he called justice for the land, justice for all men, a new beginning in a new era about to start of which he wanted to be part. If Brandon was his name, it meant nothing to her. She was barren, empty, detached from compassion, with nothing in her herself but the strength of her hate and the determination of her action.

She had loved him so much, from the very start, from moment he was born, growing up, before he left, when he was just a boy, her boy, gone to war as if as to a game, of wooden horses and wooden swords, fighting for the other side, against everything she was, everything they were, her Brandon, a traitor that would come home remorseful someday. But never came.

Alone she stood by the door as he walked away. Alone she waited for days for him to return, for a note, a letter, an apology, his shadow stretching on the hall, his laughter making pigeons take flight -his smile, two dimples under two suns for eyes. She waited and waited, no letter, no note, no strong, leather clad steps, no shadow stretching on the hall. And something broke inside, like a china doll, and she pushed back the memories, the curls of baby hair, the little paper town, the yellow and grey bear, the wooden horse, the wooden sword, the baptizing gown, all burned in the middle of the court yard as slaves and servants watched and the sister cried and cried and the brother kept silent, eyes wide awake, seeing how love shrank with the crackling of the flames.

And Brandon was not named, his absence filling itself as a droplet in the rain. The news of the war came and went and no prayers were said for the soldier, fighting with the steel, shedding the blood, somewhere, she knew, for someone always dropped a here and there, a sighting, a rumour, a cousin of a cousin who had seen him ride away, alive, well. The traitor soldier boy who had broken her heart. Alive. Brandon, somewhere, alive and well.

And then the war showed its teeth at the ancestral home. There were fires and raids, the young sister raped, the known world dripping down like the drops of blood cascading from her open wrists. And she too was gone. They buried her in the middle of the night, no priest, no comfort, the image of hades and her burning screams painting the mother’s dream black and red, red and black. And no Brandon, no captain nor lieutenant, no uniform of the wrong colour entering her chamber, bent by sorrow and regret. Her son was now one of them: the breakers, the rapists, the burners, the killers, the hell-terror-bringers, brewing down storms in every corner of herself.

How does a mother forgive betrayal and death, from that who was her night and her day, her hope, her future, the continuation of the flesh, the keeper of the pride, the guardian of the name? How do you forgive a son gone to war, fighting for those who are asking for your head? How do you accept him back, pretend that nothing happened, look away from the smoke marks, the blood stains on the wall, the empty room where a young girl once danced and walked and crawled? How do you not look at the shatter windows, at the broken door, at the ragged curtains and welcome him home, prodigal son, just like that? Just like that? She did not know.

Despite it all, her heart breathed with relief, when a rumour came, a friend of a friend, sure he had seen an officer just like him, dark hair flying in the wind, riding a stallion at the end of each punishing battle, yes, yes, very much like him, eyes like the sun, the smile, the dimples, the mighty words of justice for all. Brandon was alive and deep down everything was well, behind the anger, the fear and the pain; the hunger, the poverty, sitting at the table each night where her children and husband used to laugh and talk and fight. Brandon was alive and her broken heart, hanging by a thread, held on a little more, waiting, undecided, for the return of the sun, the son, the prodigal child. It just needed to wait, a little longer and all would be well. Once again.

And she waited. When the brother did not wake after the fever, and the young slaves left, and the garden grew wild, and half of the house was closed, covered chairs hunting the place with the ghost of all that had come and left, the silence creating echoes for her steps, walking up, walking down, wringing her hands as one possessed. And then the cart came. And she heard the thread snapped inside of her, the heart splitting, splatting, dissolved to dirt. Brandon. Her Brandon, her little soldier boy, gone, dead. And she understood then.

She had no son. Her son, her boy, her idealist guy, his laughter making pigeons flutter and fly, the last of them, the hope of her blood. Brandon. Her Brandon. Gone. All that she was, all that she could be, the legacy of dozens of phantoms trapped in the crypt, her Anna, her Benjamin, all the waiting a joke from heaven, there had never been a chance, all had been lost the day Brandon went away, and she knew it then as she knew it now, the prodigal, traitor son, rip, rip, ripping the world she had known, making her an empty shell, cold, angry, hate-filled, inhumane, a raging monster seeing red, everything stolen from her, Brandon, her son, gone.

 

Dead.

So, she sent him off.

For someone had to pay.

 

Off, with no last kiss, no last embrace, no last caress. No last pulling the lock of hair from his forehead. Off, away, from her life, from her heart, from all that she was.

And she saw the boots as the cart turned around. Scuffed, frayed, caked in his blood. And she was about to stop, stop them, call them out, but a darkness from within muffled the sound. And they took him away, in the heat of midday, the clip, clap of the oxen’s hoofs making dusty waves.

And how does a mother turn away the corpse of her son? She did not know. For the years to come, every day she would ask herself that same question, answer it with wrath and silences and tears, and the loneliness of the empty hall, the empty arms, the empty space in the crypt where flowers faded into shades of grey. Everyday. Waiting for redemption. And redemption never came. Brandon. Her child of light, his cradle burned, his painting cut to pieces, nothing left but the memories held in an ancient mind, withering daily into still frames, every day fuzzier, every day further and further away. Had she had a son? At times, she was not sure, but she would call him anyway, this mysterious name escaping her lips, in her coarse voice: Brandon, Brandon, eyes like the sun, someone she used to know, she guessed. Someone. She loved? Someone who had come and gone, like the evening breeze… someone she had known? Someone here. Coming here. Laughing here.

No more.

Summer is Over -Stacey’s Mum

@KaremIBarratt

woman-in-grocery-store

When Summer was at its heights,

And my life was still mine,

I had a name, I had a voice, I was

A girl with a plan.

With bridges to build and castles to conquer.

But Summer is over and I’m just

Stacey’s mum.

I am dear, I am babe,

I am Mrs Whoever, Lady X.

I am the invisible woman in the second

Lane, at the front of the queue, catching

A glimpse of herself

In the reflection of the vending machine.

And I know why the caged bird sings,

And the lonely teenager rips her skin

With a razor, and the town’s weirdo

Put his life at risk doing an impossible feat,

And the cat lady screams in the middle

of the night, like crazy.

They do it to feel.

To convince ourselves that we are real, here, still,

Ugly, fat, slim, old, grey, faded, strange,

Still here, our beating hearts still playing

The summer song that gave us flight,

That made us reckless, that made us dance

And dance, until that dance and we were one,

The dance still dancing inside of Stacey’s mum.

Summer shines in me, summer rises in me,

Flowers bloom in me, working their way up

To the cracks of my casing, to break the

Cloak of venerability, like dandelions

Pushing pavements apart,

The cement of the years, of Lady X and little dear,

Of the names given, imposed, baptized,

The mask I am told to wear, ripping at the sides.

But inside, I’m getting high, darling; stoned darling;

Intoxicated darling, with guitars and moonshine and life.

Singing in a red dress on the top of the bar,

In a smoky club to the notes of jazz, blues, a few

Suede shoes twisting and tapping in my heart.

And I’m not over yet.

I’m not done yet.

I’m not broken nor wrecked nor cracked nor shattered, yet.

I am older,  wiser, perhaps, but not obsolete,

There are still rainbows forming beneath

My cape of invisibility.

Summer is over, true, and outside autumn has

Painted the world red. But strawberries roll

Down my throat, and mead, and cheese on bread,

The green grass growing inside my oxford pumps,

Not just Stacey’s mum, but me, the me who had

A name, who had a plan, who had a game,

The me who held the sun in her hands and made it shine.

In aisle three I may walk, Lady X, looking for butter and eggs,

But inside I am surfing, writing my name on the sand,

Listening to the sea trapped in a shell, my shell,

This what you see, a fraction of myself.

Outside, the breeze is chilly, the autumn leaves

Whirling in the air, like a dreaming dervish waiting for death.

And I sit still, stand still, make myself still, in this role, still,

Pretending summer has come and gone,

And I’m just babe, dear, woman in aisle one.

Stacey’s mum. Still. Non-person with no name. Still.

But it’s fake news, darling, because in this half-world

I have been put in, like a mute extra in a play,

There is another side yet, another place yet, a time behind yet

Where Summer neve ever ends and the roses know my name

And on my motor bike I ride and I ride and ride, a bit of wild of

Sex on the side. A few blues, a little jazz. The crackling

Song of bonfires calling the early morning light.

And me. And I. Still breathing. Still being. Still alive. Here.

Ready to take flight, darling; to be, darling.

To birth a second summer from the depth of my heart,

My inner fire much more than meets the eye,

A person with a name, a woman with a game,

Stacey’s mum piling away all the crap, and making it burn.

Summer is Over -The Migrant Chant

@KaremIBarratt

 

end-of-summer-milton-mpounas

 

 

It’s like I’m waking from a dream that lasted a hundred years, and the world is a world anew, similar but not exact to the one I knew -understood- from my time behind, when I was whoever I was that long, long ago.

It’s like being an amnesic thrown back to her hometown. Everybody knows my name, but me. I forget: was I happy? Was I weird? Was I the colourful butterfly or the grey wallpaper flower fading in the dance? Was I a dork, a jerk, a sinner, a saint?

It’s like looking at the almanac and realize that summer is over -everything lived but a parenthesis from real life- nothing long lasting, nothing deeply planted, all just volutes from a bonfire by the beach, someone playing a guitar as the sun sets. We didn’t know it then, but all that beauty could not last. And all that I was, all that we were, flies away in the wings of swans and ducks, to warmer lands, the distant lands of our broken hearts.

And autumn knocks at my door and I no longer know who I am. Don’t know myself, my name, my real name, the one called by grandma when it was time to go to bed. And the world turns cool, the one I knew dissolving in front of my eyes, the one rising similar, but not the same – never, ever the one I long for. More of a tamed garden version of the feral jungles of my core. And this is  a holiday I cannot end: run from, flight from. Walk away. There is no place, no street, no home to return to.

No spaces, no spots, no people. No tree to attach memories to. No house, no corner, no old dinner, no little pink café. Everything is gone -all we have left is the cold, the new land, the shadow of that who I was, who we were, that which we believed. In the blink of an eye. In a whimper, in a sigh, in a second. Good-bye.

Summer is over and estrangers call me by a name, showing me places I am to feel as mine, trailing routines someone created for me to follow, like a lab rat in a maze. Summer is over. The world I knew is tangled with the wispy reminiscences of a dream I can’t shake from my eyes, that who I was, that which I believed, was it a lie? A fantasy? The reckless child of an idle mind?

Summer is over and autumn kisses my cheek like a loving husband I’m supposed to know and love. And I shiver in its cool embrace. There was a name once, the name I understood to be mine. There was a face, a voice, a laughter, lost in the blink of an eye. Lost in the night, in the dream, in the awakening of pink dawns ripping away myself from me.

I am lost, oh so lost, in this autumn and its flying leaves; in the intricate lace created by the bare trees. In the moist soil. In the cool breeze. I am lost to myself, wondering, again, what is my name to be in this world rising in front of me, imitation of my world, but never ever, the same.

Summer is over and whatever this, is, it seems I am here to stay. New eyes, new face, new voice, new name. In the blink of an eye, summer greens turning to burning reds.

 

Summer is Over- The Song of 51

@KaremIBarratt

middle-ages-princess-red-favim_com-275466

Summer Is Over-The Song of 51

 

Summer is over

And I look for myself,

In the flying leaves and the

Greens turned reds.

And I can’t find that who I used to be,

That which I once believed,

Lost in a dream from ages ago.

 

All gone.

 

My name, my face, my voice,

The places I used to know,

The world I understood to be mine,

In the blink of an eye,

A forced good-bye.

And autumn kisses my face

Like a loving husband I am supposed

To know -to love.

 

But I am still behind, in the other time,

In the life which was mine, the warm

Rays to the sun flowing in my blood,

My bones made for dance and run,

My ears drunk in guitar’s notes sung,

Next to a bonfire’s crackling song,

For I knew myself then.

I understood my soul.

I had a name, a proper name,

Like those whispered by an eagle

On a shamanic quest.

I was me and no other.

I was summer’s lover and summer’s muse.

The world was my playground.

And my first business of the day

Was to believe in impossibilities.

And then chase after them.

 

Now autumn is knocking at my door,

Waking me from a slumber that lasted too long.

And in the blink of an eye,

There are good-byes, as a new life I did not asked

For sits by my fire place, smiling, like a

Long-distance aunt who has come home to stay.

And I can’t go back.

 

For summer is over.

 

 

The places, the faces, the names, the voices.

All gone. And this world stands in front of me,

Crispy and anew, looking eerily similar to the one

I understood, before, similar, but not the same, the flying leaves,

The intricate lace of the bare trees, the summer

Greens turning red, baptizing me with  another name,

Another voice, another face.

 

And as in dream, summer is over.

Just like that.

All that was dissolves in the blink of an eye.

Nothing else to say but good-bye.

And I want to hold on, but I can’t,

Summer is over, autumn is knocking at my door,

The world I understood, long lost,

And I want to cry, I want to run, back,

To wherever back is.

But summer is over, and there is nothing else to say,

As cool greens twist and burn into fiery reds.