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.
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