Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Sunday Visit - Christy Brown

We finally found him
curled up in the chair like a many-wrinkled shell
staring blindly out at nothing
among a gathering of imbecilic fossils
his one good eye fastening fiercely onto life
the hair still sturdy though silver under the old cloth cap.

We finally found him
through all that terrible labyrinth of grey concrete cells
quietly rounding out his days
alone in a morass of moronic camaraderie
his doomed cellmates snoozing and snoring all around
and he with his one good eye defying the shadows.

The tears came then
not soft, but real
the tears of a real man broken by life
groping wildly with gnarled fingers at the straws of life
in that awful room of no life
and the television set blaring forth its banalities
drowning whatever words of comfort our futile tongues could offer.

I had no words for him
no words to span the heartbreak of years
when Samson-like he had stood between us and chaos
bringing to us the small rare trinkets of his love.
I had for him only whiskey
the old bitter gift
the poor tribute of one poorer in spirit
than that jaded near-blind half-deaf soul reclining so tamely
in a wicker chair
in a ward of fearful paralysing resignation
a ward full of already dead people
sleeping as the television blared.

Yet the hand that gripped mine spelled out love
and the raw lovely courage of that old landscaped face
put my feeble pity to shame.
Christy Brown (1932 – 1981) Ireland

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