The Visionaries (For the Children of the Documentary, Born into Brothels)

Sometimes things force us to see
this life’s intolerable enchantment,
and how far we still fall short
of its primordial command
to be everything,
to be all things.

I’ve seen something that
opened me,
like a blade of sun
slicing the unready fruit,
that glistened in its pain anyway.

I’ve seen children, in the ferocity of their small lives,
clutching at cheap cameras,
showing us how much we could still be,
how young time is, even in us.

I mean the children of the ghettos of Calcutta,
of the sunless streets that
narrow the heart,
and the dead ends like so many short lives.

I mean how, against the defeated wind,
they too find a brief time to bloom
in an explosion of arrogant youth.
Suddenly this trepidation,
the ancient, anticipated song,
the shutter that falls before a fearless eye.

Each one will show us something new.
Each with their camera, their lens,
and the rudiments of vision,
goes out into their broken world
to find its unsought beauty.

And there in their images,
the depth of poverty’s heart,
the dignity of each sudden colour,
unearthed by its children.

How we feel shaken
by these brutal eyes of hope,
how we feel like all things,
like everything in their lens.

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It’s the I that complicates things.
The things the I keeps
in the pockets of his soul,

you wouldn’t understand
that even he finds this
difficult to explain to himself.

Come near.
You’ll find an
endless tower of hands
covering each other

and the thing the I keeps
buried beneath in the dust.
So deep, he can’t find
a reflection in the damp earth,

he can’t see the
opened seed of lament.
But he was once a child
of painful births.

One after another,
summers bled from him.
The I was a solitude of love,
a whisper of farewells,
and places waited, naked for him.

Now, beneath the hands,
the hands that strangle one another
in tightening handshakes,
will you ever know who I am?