Winter 2005



John G Hall

these Chinese children
wear bright woollen crowns
that mother knitted them
when she was well,

but she sold her blood
to feed her royal lambs
& now it sits discounted
in the stillness of arteries
in a breast shaped mound,

her tiny worshipers
kneel in their tears
burning counterfeit
spirit money until
it lies like black gilt
on the pure snow,

they sing into the soil
without understanding
the ancient language
still understanding loss
their quivering lips put
meaning in every word,

mother remains
the milk in their teeth
the cherry pinch
in their damp cheeks,
she is the chalk inside
their bones left fighting
the virus of poverty,

baby brother is pushing
his frozen face into father
suckling heat from his coat
in the spring he will paste
lucky couplets on the walls
of his straw brick house
and light fire-crackers
to frighten off their demons,

yet in the hell of his blood
atomic explosions drown out
the pyrotechnics of hope,
still she remains a pyrrhic love
a fading colour in his bitten lip
a silence that sleeps with him,

in the secret place of prayer
where she first knitted her children
their bright bonnets their woollen crowns
her lambs sit anointed by her needle prick
father stroking her precious sheep’s clothing
and while he lives no wolf dares.
*(Author's note: One Million people in China have aids contracted mostly from selling their own blood)

John G. Hall is a poet from Manchester England. Recent publications include Fire, Coffee House Poetry, Left Curve, The Wolf, Carillon, Aesthetica, Rain Dog and Brittle Star. He has a poetry collection entitled 'The Drowning Fish' forthcoming and is a featured poet in Bewrite Books’ anthology 'Routes'. He considers himself a lapsed Marxist-Buddhist. He is also editor of Citizen32 , a radical poetry & arts magazine published in December 2004.



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