13: Icicles – Crunching

My fingers are so cold today that writing with this fountain pen is difficult. The winter, with its cold and steaming breath (even indoors, where the heating is turned off) is an enemy of my intel­lect. I still read my books as I shiver and shake, but the pages turn limp as my steaming breath spills out all over them, and because of my short sight I have to press my face unnaturally close to the typography. If I keep my glasses on, the lenses have a tendency to fog up as my steaming breath billows before me … so my thoughts must stop as my reading is interrupted, and an idea, a thought, a question, a response to something, is lost forever in the chilled and chilling air of winter. And as my shivering muscles tense and harden – I was awak­ened by the most awful muscular cramps in my back this morning – so my brain seems to shudder to a halt. The passion of thought, the exuberance of engaging with someone else’s ideas or stories or despair, requires a certain minimum temperature to function properly. The homeless person cannot win the Nobel Prize[1] because no matter the quan­tity of notebooks, ruled or plain, fountain pens or pencils that one might donate to their endeavour, they will always be too cold for intellectual work. Ex­cept perhaps for a poem or two about the cold…

My moustache is encrusted with ice
And icicles hang from my frozen beard.
When I fell upon the icy pavement
My face made a crunching noise
That sounded like a mighty glacier
Cleaving apart.
I cut my face, but the chill
Anaesthetised me against the pain
As much as it has these past few days
Anaesthetised my thoughts.
Cold and hunger and the cruelty of the human race
Turn my viscid blood a different colour,
For when my face bled, it exuded a sort of
Magenta syrup, the same colour as the
Front door that quickly slammed shut
After someone had come to see what had happened.
If I weep for my suffering and my broken icicles,
I weep no less for the corruption of those souls
Who preside over a community that makes
The breaking of a man’s icicles possible
And unremarked and unremarkable, for they have
Lost their humanity, and nothing good can
Come of that.
Here is where the Devil dwells,
In condemnation and hatred and
Blaming those who suffer for their suffering.

[1] The Nobel Prize for literature, I suppose, is what I have in mind.

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