“My Papa’s Eyes” by David Fraser, Unknown

Change July 19, 2011 19:49

topic: CHANGE medium: TEXT

I see my papa’s eyes weighted with two round stones, smoothed by river water. My mother’s tears drip upon my neck. I reach across a crude, rough-hewn wooden box, a kind of boat to me, lined with my mother’s shawl. With me, I see my mother, my little sister, and my brother barely born scratching at the soil for years to pay the priest. My mother’s friends keen through coarse scarves and fists of scars held close to their mouths. Their tears flood over me, flow into my father’s box; fill in around his Sunday clothes. My tears join the steady flow of grief as the water of our lives seeps into the neat round bullet holes in the cloth and in his skin.

I see the pamphlets poking from my father’s pocket. He printed them himself, met silently at night with men whose furtive looks and weary eyes told me that even grown-up men have fears. From my quiet corner of the house, I listened to their whispering and watched their fists rattling the air. I heard the words of freedom, equality and peace, those floating images, so hard to touch. My heart, too, was knotted then; my teeth were clenched.

The wails of weeping women bring me back… my father’s blood leaking into sand the day the soldiers’ bullets planted deep-red flowers in his chest… back from places of the past; and hungry, violent moments yet to be. Their tears overflow my papa’s coffin and fall as if from high mountains on to the earthen floor, trod thick and firm by centuries of feet. These waters fill the room, and we are all forced to swim like fish and gulp the sadness in, wishing we were brightly coloured birds.

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