(Seyyedeh Malek Kahtun on Aurelius Augustine — 1030)
He spoke and I understood; I do not understand
how I knew what he told me, but I did. His eyes
recognised mine despite our never having met, or
even lived in the same city or time. I was not long
for this world, so I heard. In between my sleeping
there was too much light in the bedroom, bright
autumn sun, white as heaven, white as his head.
I couldn’t look away so I fell asleep again. In the night
my eyes were more flexible. We discussed sons
and regret. I did not pray for salvation; there was no
intercession, simply a cure that fixed each ailment
separately. Aurelius Augustine said to me
I cannot heal you. Yet, as we spoke — as he listened
to my complaints — the troubles vanished.
My illness annoys me. I do not like being confused. He smiled
and confusion drifted off like a cloud shadow.
My eyes irritate me. I do not like having to move my whole head.
He nodded and soon I didn’t have to.
I know old women fall — it is a fact of life — but I ought
to be stronger. Balance has never been such an effort.
He swore he could not steady my legs and walked away.
For the first time since my boys were children, I ran
to catch up and continue the argument. The corridors
were so much whiter and smelt sweet. I believe I will die soon
I confessed, and, began to weep at the prospect of seeing
death straight and clear on my own firm feet.
Aurelius Augustine’s sigh dried my tears as they formed.
None were allowed to roll past my nose.
Let me out of your after-life, I tried to call but was voiceless.
The conditions of this dream were so uneasy.
I have no control; you are the one keeping me
here Aurelius Augustine said calmly.
“Trick Horse” is an excerpt from Amy Brown’s new book, An Odour of Sanctity (VUP), which is going to be launched this Saturday, 6 July, 6pm at the Adam Art Gallery. The launch is also for Issue 7 of Hue & Cry: Deep, so is doubly exciting. The collection tells the astonishing stories of six candidates for sainthood, and is an epic poem for our time. Having really enjoyed Brown’s debut collection, The Propaganda Poster Girl, (which was shortlisted for the Jessie Mackay Award for Best First Book in the 2009 Montana NZ Book Awards), I can’t wait to read this new book.
For other Tuesday Poems check out the hub.