Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Afterlife

While you are preparing for sleep, brushing your teeth
or riffling through a magazine in bed,
the dead of the day are setting out on their journey.

They're moving off in all imaginable directions,
each according to his own private belief,
and this is the secret that silent Lazarus would not reveal:
that everyone is right, as it turns out,
you go to the place you always thought you would go,
the place you keep lit in an alcove in your head.

Some are being shot into a funnel of flashing colors
into a zone of white, light as a January sun,
others are standing naked before a forbidding judge, who sits
with a golden ladder on one side, a coal chute on the other.

Some have already joined the celestial choir
and are singing as if they've been doing this forever,
whilst the less inventive find themselves stuck
in a big air conditioned room full of food and chorus girls.

Some are approaching the apartment of the female God,
a woman in her forties with short wiry hair,
and glasses hanging from her neck by a string.
With one eye she regards the dead through a hole in her door.

There are those who are squeezing into the bodies
of animals - eagles and leopards - and one trying on
the skin of a monkey like a tight suit,
ready to begin another life in a more simple key,

while others float off into some benign vagueness,
little units of energy heading for the ultimate elsewhere.

There are even a few classicists being led to an underworld
by a mythological creature with a beard and hooves.
He will bring them to the mouth of the furious cave
guarded over by Edith Hamilton and her three headed dog'

The rest just lie on their backs in their coffins
wishing they could return so they could learn italian
or see the pyramids, or play some golf in a light rain.
They wish they could wake in the morning like you
and stand at a window examining the winter trees,
every branch traced with the ghost writing of snow.

Billy Collins

xxx elle

Saturday, March 30, 2013

There's a sigh in my soup.

My daughter Skye is a doctor at an Aids clinic in Soweto.

Many of her patients are hungry, and unable to take their medication on an empty stomach.

Many of them are too poor to pay for transport to Baragwanath Hospital where she refers them when they need to see a specialist, or require treatment unavailable at the clinic.

Skye gives someone her neatly made lunch everyday.

Skye empties her purse to help with bus fare to Bara.

Skye cries in her car on the way home from work.

Now, Skye is doing something about the desperation that surrounds her. She has started The Sibahle Community Centre.  It means, 'we are beautiful'.

There will be a soup kitchen, and an allotment garden. Nobody will have to sit and wait all day for the doctor without having a hot meal anymore.

Skye is excited, and positive that it can become a reality. The nurses are being supportive. Pots have been purchased. The stove is waiting to be switched on.

Please help make it happen if you can.

Sibahle Community Centre
Account number 001658956
Standard Bank
Branch number 007205

xxx elle

Despicable Me

I never leave comments on other peoples blogs.

Once I wrote a letter to Nienie's sister to tell her how upset I was over her terrible accident. That is all.

So, I don't know why I did it.

I cyber bullied an innocent man called Bill. At least that is what my daughter Erin tells me it is called. And. She. Is. Probably. Right!

I came to Bill's blog by way of another blogger whose writing I love. There was a link to a recent posting on Bill's blog and I followed it out of curiosity. Only when I got to the posting which was about the recent terrible events in Oscar Pistorius' life did I realize that I had followed a link to this blog before. I remembered that my previous impression of Bill based on his writing, was that he was a truly miserable person, focusing all of his attention on anything and everything around him that he found wanting. In one posting Bill blogged about a convention that he had attended in Washington. Did I mention that Bill was injured in a car accident when he was 18, and has spent much of his adult life in a wheelchair! Bill had a long list of grievances about the inadequate services made available to him. He was very angry that one of the buses had a malfunctioning mechanical step, making it impossible for him to board the bus, and requiring a ten minute wait for the next bus.

Bill also reflected on how nobody took the trouble to talk to him while he waited for the bus. He said it was because he was in a wheelchair.

I don't know why I did it.

I read Bill's miserable posting on Oscar and than I left a mean comment on Bill's blog. I told him he appeared to be a very irritable, angry person and that with his attitude people were unlikely to want to talk to him, even if he was standing!

It took only an instant for my comment to appear on the screen, and my regret was intense and instantaneous...worse still, for whatever reason my comment came up as posted by anonymous which made me a cowardly bully too!

I felt terrible. I couldn't sleep. Terrified, I checked Bill's blog.' I just want to be treated like a bipedal person,' Bill lamented in answer to my horrible words. And, ironically, of course I had done just that.

I turned to my daughter Erin, 'don't expect me to make you feel better about this mom," she advised, 'because I wont.'

I recounted my sorry tale at a dinner party. A woman glared at me from across the table. Before I left, she gave me a withering look, and spat, ' don't ever criticize someone in a wheelchair, it's disgusting.' I like a good telling off when I've done wrong so I took it well(ish).

My friends mum has been in a wheelchair for 53 years. She was left a quadriplegic after being injured in a car accident whilst pregnant with her third daughter...No one would ignore her at a bus stop. Everybody wants to talk to her. She is grace and gentleness personified. If she wrote a blog, it would no doubt be filled with all the beauty, and kindness that she has passed on to her glorious daughters.

She would never leave a mean comment on anyone's blog.

Sorry Bill.

xxx elle