I wait on shadows,
Leper in a dirty well,
Bathing my feet in old blood
How bitter the taste of the world's blood!
You who proudly spit in wells!
Think you whence your mother draws your bath?
Are not tears purer than disdainéd phlegm?
Is water not more sacred than urine?
It isn't your faultthough I hate you
all the same
My imprisonment in this dank shaft.
That was done long ago, by others no less cruel.
It seems everyone needs a scapegoat.
Yes, blame it all on Caliban
Now that the gods no longer shoulder the burden.
I am no Christ, though I suffer as such,
And without even the kind words of regard
Given to that poor prophet.
No, I am not divine, not loved by God or man
Who sentenced me yet even ere I was born.
I am alone, yet manifold.
I am the weary pan-handler who entreats with feigned smile.
I am the forsaken youth who joins the disillusioned congregation in masses of chemical benediction.
I am the veteran, the tradesman, the engineer whose services have been discarded to make way for the next rank.
I am the jilted philosopher who sits alone at his cramped writing desk and pens his tears for scoffers and fanatics.
I am the failed artist whose exhibitions draw no admirers from either critic or layman.
But more than all of these...
I am the beaten child, the battered wife.
I am the evicted native, the wandering mercenary.
I am the criminal, the convict,
I am no Christ; I am but a man,
A man at such length locked in the closet
That desire for freedom has been long forgotten
And in its place desire for
So douse me with your spit, proud lad,
But lo! I shall not remain unavenged,
For even now my reeking flesh anoints your waters
(To be mixed with generous measure into your wine.)
And I fatten myself on soldiers' discarded limbs.
Come closer to this well, young man.
One day I'll have your limbs too,
As your father's before you.
And one day, the star will come with shining key
And before the harrowed eyes of your son's son,
The gates will be thrown wide
And I shall ascend with the locusts.
George Chadderdon © 1994