Saturday, April 5, 2014

Poetic Asides Day 3

A message

The ChamberMaid

This postcard refuses to be filed away.
I see it reminds me of Eugenia whom
I met in Wellington a few years back.

Eugenia made my bed and cleaned
the bathroom. My hotel looked out
over a chasm, and walking to work
almost required rapel ropes.

I loitered when she arrived.
“Four days off,” she says, “I'm having an exam on Friday
doing a Masters in Business Management.”
Stripping my bed swift and precise,
flinging cushions onto a top shelf.

“Samoa!” she says. “I miss it, but …”
She came here with family before the tsunami.
"… but my husband, he went back, for work, he was a victim of it."
I watch her sweeping the sheet repeatedly across the mattress.

Uncle and his family went too but didn't help.
"My husband was sleeping in a beach hut.
They saw the water disappear, they saw the wave, a great claw.
He ran for the car, but before he could open the door
the wave slammed him against it.
He was lifted, thrown, up the mountain - some small
mountains there - he grabbed a tree with one hand, hung there.

Two days later he was found in a pickup tray, naked.
They thought he was dead.
Three       broken          ribs
a broken arm, gashes all up
his back.” She breathes as if she is running..

“He was there with all the dead people! And his uncle didn't help!
His sisters hate the uncle now. Me too. A Hercules brought him
home; he still has physio. Red Cross paid phone calls, hospital.”

“The second wave was worse,” he said. “Like an ice block.
He saw bodies without heads, limbs, floating out to sea.
He himself ended up buried in building rubble, a tiny
pinpoint of light above him. Lost!”

The bed is done with hospital corners tight-tucked, flat,
fresh and pushed against the wall. She hasn't smiled,
she's not bitter. "I was a CEO back home,” she says,
“an accountant. Are you sure there is nothing else I can do for you?"

This postcard promotes an exhibition of artworks
by women who have experienced mental ill health or trauma.
The artist is Sara Wilson. The title is Mona Lisa.
The medium is acrylic on canvas, painted in 2006.

It refuses to be filed away.
I met Eugenia  in Wellington a few years back.
“Life!” she said as she departed. I stared out
over the chasm, began the descent.

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