A Million Ways

I wish to know a million ways to hurt:

With fist and sword,

With smile, with thought and word,

So from a million ways to hurt

I could protect you,

Who lives at war with the world

Your own mind has created;

/

I’ll learn my arts

From pretend saints and their demons,

From those, who buy what can’t be bought,

Who, to sell water, cause a draught,

From those, who drench their lands in blood

As if to please not their confused hearts

But a god;

/

I’ll sprout a million hands

And place in each a weapon;

I’ll grow a million heads

And poison each with ignorance;

I’ll stand on a million legs so strong,

With each my step the Earth will shake,

And I will fight, deceive and dance

Until but dust – and you – remain;

/

I wished to know a million ways to hurt,

So I could give you this clean sheet

To paint a world,

Where there’s no need for pain or fear,

Or monsters of forgotten pasts;

Where none finds joy in harming or in suffering;

Where there’s no place for me, at last

The Firebird

Along the road between past and future

If you glimpsed me run, could you tell

Whether I was still pushing forward

Or retreating under the blows of pain?

/

If you witnessed me freeze and bend double,

Burying my face in shaking hands,

Would you think I laughed at a joke’s echo

Or wept suddenly over a secret hurt?

/

With my feet in the air and arms outstretched,

If you saw how I leaped off the edge,

Would you choose to imagine me soaring,

Or, acknowledging gravity, falling to death?

/

You can’t know – our paths crossed for but a blurred moment;

Just believe I ran forward and joyfully laughed;

That when I came to the edge of the world and stepped off it,

I turned into a firebird

The Form

When I imagine that I’m not,

Remind me that I am a shadow:

Look through me like I am a ghost,

Walk past me with a sudden shudder;

/

Do not allow me to forget

That I am not a whole but pieces

Together strung, together torn

Away from the key one, gone missing;

/

When I pull on my human skin,

Do not believe the frail illusion,

And through your eyes don’t make me see

What I once used to be – a woman;

/

I must forget the one I was,

Give up the rights to love and to desire,

And find a fuel to feed the fire,

Which burns on in my heart against all odds;

/

I may become a warrior’s sword,

A pilgrim’s staff, a book of verses,

One of a crowd of circus clown,

Whose tears and laughter are but paint and noise…

/

When you imagine that I’m not,

I must remind you I’m a shadow:

Look at you as if through a veil of cold

And walk right past you nonchalantly

The Gift

I will show you your great courage,

I will teach you to see beauty,

I’ll gift you with a smile as bright

As the Sun’s, round whom dances the Universe;

/

But the wings I will give you will cost you your legs;

The truths I’ll share with you will be hammered like nails

Into the old, cracked, yet stubborn walls of your mind,

Built of prejudice and recycled thoughts;

/

I will grant you the Wind’s freedom,

Turn your voice into a wild Thunder;

I’ll reforge your heart into one as strong

As this of the Earth-Mother;

/

But the strength you will have will be tested each day;

The light in your eyes will draw darkness and pain,

And the love that will live in your chest must survive

The tests of indifference, of hatred, of time…

/

I offer you these gifts freely;

I offer you these burdens, heavy;

Will you take them from me bravely

Or pretend that you can’t hear me?