Even the dogs

Weary from the crowds,
he slipped across the border for a break.
A holiday with a few close friends,
up north among the foreigners.
Different people, culture, food.
Best of all, no one knows him here.

The woman’s love
has grown achingly to despair;
such is her daughter’s illness.
Her dormant hopes quicken
when she learns the identity
of the stranger from the south.

Disregarding his request for privacy,
she intrudes, insisting that he intervene
to heal her child.
His response disappoints.
Wrong race, wrong religion.

The man offers a domestic metaphor to justify
his lack of compassion.
Sorry, I can’t help;
the food is for the children, not the dogs.

It takes our breath away.
Suddenly we hear the shrill, cheering voices
of the xenophobes, islamophobes, flag wearers,
shock jocks and opportunistic politicians.

But the story continues;
this foreign woman does not know her place.
She accepts the racial calumny,
but, with impertinence,
throws the image back at the teacher:
Yes, but even the dogs . . .

Even the dogs.
The woman, he concedes, is correct.
There are no boundaries to love
except the ones we fashion from our fears.
The man accepts his lesson with grace,
and setting aside his weariness,
offers her the crumb.

 

© Ken Rookes 2017

Advertisements

Rosalind Park

Acrylic 50 x 70 cm

I took part in the Bendigo Easter Festival Paint out where a number of artists were invited to paint aspects of the festival. This is my painting of children in Rosalind Park. The paintings are on display for another week at the Information Centre.

 

It becomes a companion piece to my painting of the children’s petting farm last year.

Warlpiri Children # 3 Willowra

Lino cut 31 x 47 cm

The third in my series of lino-cuts of the children of Willowra. I printed a proof in 2015, but only recently produced an edition.

We left Willowra late last year, after three years, and we deeply miss the children. They are beautiful.

warlpiri children 3 (2) sm

Animal Farm

Over the Easter weekend I took part in the Bendigo Easter Festival Paint Out, where ten local artists were tasked with painting festival action. We were expected to paint for at least three hours on each of two days.

I accepted the challenge of moving beyond the proverbial comfort zone, and found it an enriching experience engaging with the public as I worked. Some children told me I was a good artist, despite evidence to the contrary in the early stages of the painting.

I produced this acrylic painting, entirely from life, of the children’s animal farm in Rosalind Park. I think it works quite well.

 

animal farm sm

 

 

What should we do?

 

After this, a group of politicians brought a family before Jesus to accuse them.

family 2 sm

“We caught these foreigners crossing our borders without permission,” their leader said. “How should we deal with them?”

“What do your laws say?” he asked them.

“Our laws permit us to send them far away, where they can be locked up among barbed wire, mosquitoes and despair,” said the leader.

“What have you to say for yourselves?” Jesus asked the family.

The man stepped forward. “Our land was filled with fear and fighting,” he said.

His wife stood at his side, as the children clung to her. “We gathered what we could and fled. We came here hoping to find a place of refuge; where our children could be safe and grow and thrive.”

“There!” exclaimed a woman. “You have heard it from their own lips, they deserve to be sent away. What do you say, Teacher?”

Jesus crouched, and drew with his finger in the dust.
Then he stood, looked about him and spoke.
“Let the one who has never feared an election defeat be the one who turns the key.”

The crowd became enraged. They seized him and handled him roughly.

Their leader spoke. “You are nothing but a bleeding-heart lefty!” he said. “What would you know?”

Then they cast him headlong into a ditch; and dragged the family away.

Some other people saw what happened, and wept for shame. They went looking for Jesus. He was sitting on the side of the ditch, wiping the blood from his face.

“This is all wrong,” they said. “What should we do?”

Jesus stood up. Looking into their eyes he embraced each one, and said, simply, “Everything. We must do everything that we can.”

 

© Ken Rookes 2016.

For some earlier thoughts on these matters see Haiku of Shame