after Liu Chuang’s Bitcoin Mining and Field
Recordings of Ethnic Minorities (2018)
The spinning wheels glow neon-green. Water
released from the mouth of the dam roars over
the bolted edge into the reservoir. We mine energy;
we disconnect from the pod and emerge, newborn
and knowing. Time hurtles down dimly lit corridors,
a cat’s ears rotate unthinkingly to the origin of sound.
Strings of copper cash now worthless. People rush to exchange
them for trays of rotting persimmons. Melt metal in the furnace,
cast copper into a series of hanging bells. The King struck one:
its thin reverberations blurred the air, travelled up his hand into
his body, and stopped his heart. A mountain woman sings songs
of her ancestors into the mouthpiece of a computer held in one hand.
We hear music, and coloured bulbs light up in tandem. A white man
stalks a black crowd; he collects their cadences for an ivory grave.
Telegraph wires divide whole forests; they cannot bear our human weight.
I also am a daughter of the colony.
I share their broken speech, their other-whereness.
– “Colony”, Eavan Boland
You laugh at my speech.
Even my name is wrong.
My tongue will not bend.
I cannot read these titles;
I do not speak these words.
I wake myself in the dark, talking.
I stand in the garden, facing the sea.
The north wind tugs at the wet fabric
in my hands. I peg it firmly:
the shirt is a trapped, white flag.
If an ancestor had continued south,
what then? A market garden, goldfields,
a laundry, the family restaurant. Not this
bloodless mining of words, this stymied pen.
Every smallest thing is too much for me.
– Monica Jones, in a letter to Philip Larkin
The roast in the oven grown cold
The empty bed
Her hair on your coat
No letters for weeks
Rain all day
The garden near drowned
The lost cat
Its collar worn through
A broken glass
Wine on the carpet
The mirror last night
Pages of a book
I build a fire
Your handwriting collapses
The gate fallen off its hinges
A rusted latch
This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Jan 30, 2021 as "Three poems".
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