“Anniversaries” and “Montreal Massacre” by Mia Burrus

August 6 and 9 are the 75th anniversaries of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I am rereading John Hersey’s account of six hibakusha, literally “explosion-affected persons”, thinking of the tiny lanterns set alfoat on the river each August, and the Hirohima memorial/museum, which, if I had a bucket list, would be on it.

I made a point of completing another anniversary project this week, one I started just after New Year, about the 30th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre, whose date was December 6 2019. This anniversary, of an event which happened in my lifetime, became the thorn on the red rose, useless repetition, regression, the record with a skip in it. It started as a poem but devolved into an assemblage, finally becoming a setting for a ‘poem’ (or the world’s shortest play). I literally stick it to the white ribbon campaign, with side trips into Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and Greek tragedy. I have tried to remain positive!  Res ipse loquitur.

Montreal Massacre by Mia Burrus

Montreal Massacre

                                                                   Dramatis Personae

                      The Fates, robed in white,
                      whom Erebus begot on Night:
 
                      Clotho : with spindle and loom and white linen thread
                      Lachesis : unspooling ribbon with a measuring rod
                      Atropos: small and terrible, wielding shears
 
                      Chorus of Women: heard from the distant land of the dead
                      Priestesses of Hestia: tending the embers, gift of their god
                      Suppliant Women:  terribly small, hiding their tears
 
                      Mute:  the rifle-maker, the soap-box builder, the brooding recluse
 
 A winter night, lit by the moon
The Chorus sings basso continuo:     weave      draw      cut      pin
 
 
Clotho:  I spin the sacred strands of my own self and weave them into cloth that is fine
and pure, endowed with all that is divine.                                         
                                                           weave      draw      cut      pin
Lachesis:  I draw web-delicate lengths of ribbon, read with fingers fine and pure the life
unfurled, imperfect, yes, and in places rough.
                                                           weave       draw      cut      pin
Atropos:  I execute a cut, my silver blade so fine and pure a lightening strike in darkest
night.                                                                                                             
                                                           weave       draw      cut      pin
Suppliant Women:  We pin the ribbons, wipe our tears, and pin again, against the pain,
sacrifice the captured small white butterflies, surrender our dead sisters to the page,
that we be free to turn, to wholly occupy the stage.
                                                           weave       draw      cut      pin
Priestesses: Majestic women, immeasurable as flame!  You carry within you our sacred
blaze.   But do not settle for remembrance and release.  Hestia’s embers burn eternal
and for eternal peace.
           
 
Exeunt: the rifle-maker, the soap-box builder, the brooding recluse

3 Comments Add yours

  1. dmwauthor says:

    I have visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan and found it profoundly overwhelming. Maybe we will all travel again.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Powerful! I love how you combined different media. I remember where I was when I saw the headline the morning after the massacre, and how I felt. Your fire/burning imagery echoes the chorus of a song I wrote when I was asked to sing at the first anniversary of this terrible event. We gathered outside in the dark, with candles. My chorus begins, “Let their memory burn like fire, let it burn the pain away / Let it burn so bright that this dark night / Becomes a brand-new day…” Sadly, women are still waiting for that brand-new day.

    Liked by 1 person

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