They wanted me to be an arms manufacturer
from when I was just small and made of dough
which everybody thought they had a right
to mould into the image of their choice
(regardless of whatever I may voice or protest
with my body, mind or soul). “You don’t compete
enough!”, they said. “It’s dog-eat-dog out there,
but you are falling far behind in all your work”.
Thus I replied, “I do not use the weapons which
you choose. I only learn if it will grow me like a tree
and blossom bright and free & send out many seeds
into the ether”. Whereupon their faces became
grave and serious like pumpkin masks at Halloween
and taking me in hand they asked me questions
like: “What is this ‘ether’ where you’ve been?”
“What other nonsense have you seen?”
“Why are you going out of bounds?”
“Why aren’t you climbing to the top?”
“Why on earth do you prefer to look out through
that window over there instead of listening
to what’s taught to you by those who know
far better and much morer than you do?”
So I replied, “How can a cardboard cutout ever
know more than a tree or sky or geese in flight
or clouds or bright or stars at night or moss or
lichen on those stones or old sheep bones
or deer and rabbits on the run or colour hues
cast by the Sun into this Autumn scene and where,
if I may ask, have any of you mind-blind passers-by
explored or been, and did you understand the colour
green, which I observe is mostly found beyond that
glass (instead of all the grey in here), is known to be
a symbol of the innocence I wish to cultivate,
despite the fact that you in all your wisdom do not
even rate it as a thing which youth can store
for adulthood and all you tell me is I ‘should’ do
this or that, accruing lots of money, getting fat,
social climbing, blind conforming, always norming,
never just some birdsong in the early morning —
the chasm between you and me is yawning”.
I could see they wished to cauterize my soul
and make me play a cushy role designed to bribe
me into using all the weapons which they make.
But I did not accept it then and still I do not now.
And I, in my fool bubble, fester like a sore on
ancient bark, while wondering if my exile is a
disinfectant balm for my long-secret broken heart
reserved for mendment in a future pristine world
where silken flags of many colours are unfurled
and truthlight swirls unfettered in a constant
stream of intricacy which will be engraved,
emblazoned, on the faces of the wise.
(It won’t be long till my demise, I hear me sigh.
Then no more cry and no more madmenwomen
feeding me their phenobarbital — The Lie).
And then I heard, from those who’d tried to mould
me as their dough, a strangled scream as into
some strange fire of their own making they did go.
I am so grateful for that dirt-free window all those
many fecund years ago. For there I got my education,
found my re-creation, entered my formation,
avoided my castration and the dry stagnation
which they thought was representative of life.
And I, now that I’ve swum so far upstream,
have come to understand that through that
gift of portal in the wall I learned to dream.
© Alan Morrison, 2019
[The original painting is by the Swedish artist, Peter Tillberg.
It is entitled “Will You Be Profitable, my Little Friend?”]