It is finished

A stone to seal an entrance,
asserting the boundary between the living
and the dead.
Linen cloths to bind a corpse,
cold lips hidden within coarse fabric;
no longer can they speak their words of love.
A hundred pounds of myrrh and aloes
to weigh a body down,
to keep it from floating off
into mythical certitude;
or uncertainty, if you prefer.
On Friday, with the setting of the sun,
light is overcome by the darkness
as a man is laid in his tomb.
Death’s accoutrements
determinedly underline the tears,
the despair,
and the apparent finality:
it is finished.

© Ken Rookes. 2015

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Donkeys

 

In Willowra
languorous donkeys make their way
along the paved roads and unsealed streets,
chomping on their grassy tucker.
They move at an easy pace.
Sometimes they stroll across invisible boundaries,
disturbing packs of proprietorial dogs
These rouse themselves from shaded slumber,
to dustily defend their family’s territory
by chasing the offending beasts away.
The two-legged inhabitants of this community,
unlike their canine companions,
mostly leave the donkeys alone.

Like all of their kind,
the donkeys of Willowra
prefer a quiet life.

In Bethpage, near Jerusalem,
the colt of a donkey was, for a time,
wrenched from its stillness
and prevailed upon to carry a man into the city.
The procession was noisy,
With flourished cloaks and branches
thrown excitedly upon the road
in front of the shy, equine creature;
all the way to the temple.
A few hours later it was all over.
The colt was dismissed
and allowed to return to his gentle ruminations.
For the man who rode him,
the ruckus had just begun.

© Ken Rookes 2015.

Lifted

He was elevated.
It was not for the purposes of admiration or acclaim;
a strange glorification.

The crudely fashioned wooden platform
is no pedestal.
What, then, shall we call it,

this instrument of shame and death;
conveniently named for its shape
rather than its purpose? No matter,

the two have been conflated
over the millennia.
There is, however, no convenience in death.

No, that is not true.
It is all a matter
of where you are standing.

Lifted from the earth,
three metres, four at the most,
anchored to earth’s rocks and dust

not by nails driven cruelly into timber,
but by cords;
willing ribbons of love.

© Ken Rookes 2015.

Mr Abbott, open your mind before you open your mouth.

Describing remote community living as a lifestyle choice again demonstrates that Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, just doesn’t get it.

For indigenous people, their remote community is their home.

It is their place of belonging, their land, their life.

Take them away from that, and their lives are diminished.

Many people living in remote communities are still not quite at home. Their family lands  have been taken and used by others; and they are forced to live alongside people who may be hostile to them. But it is as close as they are going to get to “home.” We, the dominant culture, have seen to that.

Remote communities are inconvenient, and costly. We might hope that they go away. In time some of them most likely will. Our racist attitudes and policies will ensure that this happens. And the people will suffer even more than they do now.

Jane and I have chosen to live in a remote community, but it was never a ‘life-style’ choice. The issues of remote communities are complex and multi-layered. In our third year here each day brings new insights, and challenges to our understandings; and we feel we are just beginning.

Mr Abbott, open your mind before you open your mouth.

Hide and seek

We are children.
We play hide and seek,
and cling to the shadowed places;
pretending that no one can see us.
Imagining that we
will not be found.

The light is not our friend.
Send it away,
lest it shine revealingly
upon our hiding places;
our living, our dying,
the things we do.

Seductive darkness, brush our cheeks.
Let our eyes remain closed,
reassured;
that we might continue
our multiple deceptions.
Lest we be found.

The darkness is many;
the cracks
through which the light comes in
are few.
The candle flame flickers;
small, but defiant.

© Ken Rookes 2015

Getting away with it

Wandering around
on the fringes of respectability
and caring nothing for the good regard
of the religious establishment,
Jesus pulled a ‘Pussy Riot’ protest
in the sacred precincts of the temple.
He left behind a chaos of coins and cattle,
upturned tables,
and a whip of cords.

He seemed to have gotten away with it.
They didn’t arrest him,
or throw him, Baptist-like, into prison;
things eventually settled down.
The teacher got on with his unorthodox life,
roving the land in his capacity
as a no-fixed-address itinerant,
outrageously telling it like it was.

Those in authority,
the Chief Priests and the others,
played it cool.
They righted the tables,
rounded up the livestock,
and gathered together the discarded cords.
These they plaited into rope enough;
and waited for the moment.
The arrest, incarceration,
and much worse,
would come.

 

 

© Ken Rookes 2015.