Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Fifth Sense

This is not my work, but I thought it worth sharing with you.

A 65-year-old Cypriot Greek shepherd, Nicolis Loizou, was wounded on 30 December, 1957, by security forces. He was challenged twice; when he failed to answer, troops opened fire. A subsequent hospital examination showed that the man was deaf.

Lamps burn all night
Here, where people must be watched and seen,
And I, a shepherd, Nicolis Loizou,
Wish for the dark, for I have been
Sure-footed in the dark, but now my sight
Stumbles among these beds, scattered white boulders,
As I lean towards my far slumbering house
With the night slumbering upon my shoulders.

My sight was always good,
Better than others, I could taste wine and bread
And name the field they spattered when the harvest
Broke, I could coil in the red
Scent of the fox out of a maze of wood
And grass. I could touch mist. I could touch breath.
But of my sharp senses I had only four.
The fifth one pinned me to my death.

The soldiers must have called
The word they needed: Halt. Not hearing it,
I was their failure, relaxed against the winter
Sky, the flag of their defeat.
With their five senses they could not have told
That I lacked one, and so they had to shoot.
They would fire at a rainbow if it had
A colour less than they were taught.

Christ said that when one sheep
Was lost, the rest meant nothing any more.
Here in this hospital, where others' breathing
Swings like a lantern in the polished floor
And squeezes those who cannot sleep,
I see how precious each thing is, how dear,
For I may never touch, smell, taste or see
Again, because I could not hear.
(From, Collected Poems by Patricia Beer, published by Carcanet Press Limited in 1998)

The world is still very much the same.

No comments: