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extract from the poem Koi by John Burnside All afternoon we've wandered from the pool to alpine beds and roses ...
Saturday, 30 April 2011
I am the spirit of the wall,
I set the bounds beyond which none may pass.
My mission is to keep you separate, divide
by colour, race or creed,
by politics or class.
(I have no preference
as long as there is schism.)
I stand between you, sisters;
brothers; husbands; wives.
It is my shadow falls across your lives.
Believe me, I was there
through all those Berlin years
and still am at my damnedest
in the Arab / Jew divide.
I am the spirit that immured the Saint, the priest,
the awkward customer, so cannot bleat
if people hate me so, and scribble their abusive
words on me. I try to make amends:
I shelter their secluded gardens -
"walled" they call them - and their plants from winds
that otherwise would lay them low.
And so it is that ultimately I
am the divided one, who can be evil, harmless or
a force for good, a thing that children build in fun,
sometimes to dam a river with the likes of me.
And so my motives can be impish,
childish in the worst extreme or practical.
None of which excuses any wrong.
This is my contribution for today to Writers Island's NATIONAL POETRY's Free Writing Month.