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Halo
Granny Claire
Manihiki
Multiple Personality Disorder
The Time Traveller
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Granny Claire

 

I remember Blanche Claire
as a crazy old woman
big as a man
sitting in a padded chair,
and wonder what she
must see and understand,
now that she
in some dim south-end room
lies gasping out every cigarette,
in some greasy secondhand bed
coughing out a voice
she's never been taught to use
on her behalf.

Did she suspect that some foul seed,
a broken, growing,
twisting thing,
lay in her unsteady womb
and curled against her spine,
or perceive this way and circumstance
would lead her to these desperate days,
this half-completed house?

Her one-time fresh and open soul
bared to the world
as if ripped by a knife and boned,
that factory minded people
have locked and stoned,
fearful of her dark, implacable moods,
her vision and intent
to bring to a stagnant world
some action
that could wear away
every complacent look,
almost any tedious day.

An entire life unheard
brutalized and ignored
and locked in a brick cell
high above the swirl and curling waters
of the reversing falls.

But by her fading end she has become,
sickness bolted to a bed,
when at one time
nothing could have escaped
her glittering eye,
her wide, white hand.

She's the only one of us
to still face the world unadorned and unafraid,
that even at the choking end of her life,
would attempt to tear from her face the mask
and though die,
die exposing to the supported and secure
what's she's seen forever
and endured,
a greasy layer on every cleanly sort.

As on the ledge a caveman waits,
then here on the other side of time
Blanche Claire must stand,
exemplify and contend
with the violent beauty of our world,
the grit and dusty wind.
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