Sunday, September 18, 2011

Trapped Prayer

(with thanks to John Shaw Neilson)

The old man sat beside me.  I
  heard not what his old ears could hear:
 a sound, he said, from a far-off land
    comes to me, faint, but clear.

Is it, I said, from East or West?
  The soul of a trapped man
who with a firm voice spoke out loud
  the deceit that was deep of his clan.

Was he, I said, born to the truth.
  that in the mad escape of a silent day
he made by his words known
  the wrongs he had to betray.

Listen, the old man said, there are
  no words, no message comes to me;
but it is almost a voice that stirs
  like the murmuring wind in a tree.

Does he, I said, speak of winter cold
  and the isolation of a damp cell
that in the full depth of night
  seek an escape from his hell?

Is he so destroyed by fowl deeds
  that he aches for your ear.
Does he now seek communion
  to off-set his fear.

Listen! The old man said.  For all
  your needless talk you do not see,
there is a sound, a knock, a tap,
  this evening addressing me.

Is it, I said, words of love
  imperishable, wrapped with disdain
that move as a frightened dove
  out of the dark and the rain?

Is it the brave beat of his heart
  too willingly pierced to make change?
Is it the last words that he uttered
  that restlessly fly into range?

Silence! the old man said.  Don’t talk,
  don’t talk any more, don’t you see
tire me no longer now,
  for his pain is crippling me.

Richard Scutter 15 June 2011

Footnote - to recognise 50 years of Amnesty

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