Author's Note: Here is the third part of the “From the Ashes” poem, of which the first two parts were published in July V-V. Colquhoun has not been afflicted by the deep misogyny which has been a central concern of this saga, but he has demonstrated a sad self-centeredness in his relationships with Elizabeth and Miriam. This poem is the climax of his personal journey. Soon we can turn our attention to Miriam’s story.
From the Ashes
III We travelled, I know not where or how. When we stopped the world was as bleak and arid as the lifeless planets that endlessly circle the sun. Finally, I gasped out a few words. Long ago, long ago. These burnings happened hundreds of years ago. Antoinette smiled, not a joyful smile. Was there tenderness and compassion? Or was it mostly contempt and scorn? Poor, sad man. It is not just the burning, It is not just the acid bottle, nor the disfigured face, the lurking predators, the fist raised in anger, the belittling, cat-calling, ridiculing, the groping, the sexual violence, the covering of our faces, our backward fearful glances, nor the exploitation hiding in wealth and power. The ordinary stuff of our ordinary lives are the countless patronizing, condescending assumptions and the desire to suppress and control. I thought of Elizabeth and Miriam. Then I knew I had expected their lives to revolve around mine. Confused, desperate, I saw the single light, the horror of it, how it shone and illuminated not just that ghastly square and smoldering fire. Nor was it only proudly emblazoned on the embroidered capes of those who strutted with proud heads held high. Its incandescence emanated from deep within. I have seen the light that shines like a single eye. But what can I do? Is there a stake with which I can stab it out? Can it be rendered blind? Then Antoinette raised her hands heavenwards. Above her outstretched palms a stake appeared. Eagerly I reached for it, grasped it, and lifted it high to plunge it deep.
©2022 Neil Creighton
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