The old lady dies.

I sit by her bed knowing that at any moment she will slowly inhale a last shallow breath and the very act of filling her lungs will kill her.

Something so natural and something which she has done so many times before will be too much for her and her body will have decayed to such a point that it will refuse to take any more.

I have shot her veins full of medication for the last two weeks to ease her passing. I will pierce the crook of her arm and then I will pierce my own.

We then sit there in the amber liquid of the autumn sunlight that falls into the old lady’s bedroom, searching our subconsciouses for a clue to a mystery that neither of us are yet aware of.

Our heads swell up in the hazy quietness nodding and lolling and if any eye contact is made it causes our thoughts to become frayed and silhouetted.

They become hurt.

I feed the old lady in the morning and in the evening; mainly it is baby food or porridge. She eats very little too busy searching her past for something to praise.

Something to cling hold of.

I sit buy her bed in my armchair. Green and cream stripes running parallel up and down its seat and back.

I sit there sober and medicated watching the old lady intensely or looking out her high bedroom window.

I look at the Elm tree’s leaves as they turn yellow and fall within a day.

I wonder what secrets the old lady is pulling out, ones that she had hidden, she has told me so much in the past, but she hasn’t told me everything.

I wonder if she is rubbing the dust off her darkest ones and going over every detail like a seamstress looks for any loose threads.

I look at her; her eyes are closed yet her eyelids are almost translucent. She was beautiful once. After that she was respected. Now she is alone but for the boy that is her last link to the living world.

I wonder when it will happen. I wonder when those lungs will draw in the oxygen of the room and then remain still. What will her last thoughts be?

She opens her eyes and looks at me. She looks at the table by the bed, old, a dark varnish covering its wood. On top lies the syringe and she makes a small nod. I sigh and do what I have to do; her eyes lose focus and close once more.

I sit there and inject what is left in the syringe into my arm, I sit back and the world turns into the jungle of Babylon.


Babylon. Where the coagulated blood of her enemies became the fertilizer for its weeds and vines that curtained the doorways and windows of the inhabitants. The cinemas and the churches were busiest on Sundays and soldiers stood with sharpened blades and rifles on every street corners. I would walk past the buskers with their guitars and baskets full of snakes as they sang their folk songs and I smelt their scented necks and sweaty cleavage of lovers disappeared. The whores maintained the main street, picking up the litter of the day in the evening and selling the lottery tickets with each customer of the flesh. Babylon, where the school children would hide beneath the waterfalls of floral tendrils to kiss and then walk beneath the biggest bridge to a store that sold the cheapest sweets. I became the biggest weed in Babylon. I became Babylon’s spy. Everybody learnt that to do business with me was to go out of business. I watched as the orchids, honeysuckle, grapevines, and ivy all started to wilt as I became more powerful, as I was fed on bourbon, blood and beer. I was the Inhaler of Babylon. The people would say that History is for the Exhale and future for the Inhale. I clogged that city like the beautiful lily can clog the river, pond, and lake. I was the seed that floated on the wind and sprouted where ever I landed. I was the seed that landed on the water and floated many miles and ruined the landscape. I turned Babylon into Eden and there was no higher judgment, there was no temptation, merely life. But Babylon is full of tricks and the blood that fertilizes makes each stalk stronger and I soon found out that in this city the real- estate could be bought but never sold. My liberation of that city would have meant nothing, my death to the people, my disintegration, would have meant my blood entering the cities lifeline, entering the soil that feeds their plants. They would have been liberated of me. Those slugs and snails that climb the silk shawls of          women and the flies and mosquitoes that suck the blood from the ankles of the Babylon men would be free to take control of the plants and fates of those hanging gardens.

So I started thinning and pruning and clipping every day. I stamped on the shorn shrubs and I drew the hanging gardens aside to let the sun fall on the shoulder blades of the café dwelling whores and the buskers and the preachers of Babylon and before long a desert lay where the city of wonders once stood.

And I walked south.



I opened my eyes and saw the old lady. She was looking at me with a strange expression on her face, as though I was someone from her past. She looked as though she wanted to sit up but I knew that if she did she would have more trouble breathing. My vision was still blurred from my sleep so I rubbed my eyes. I sat there and looked at her and then out the window, the sun was shining in onto the bed, I didn’t know if she liked this or not so I slowly stood and walked to the sill. I looked out below I could see that it was the streets day for the rubbish to be collected as people where walking around the tin cans and in some cases going through them for treasures or scraps of food. I let one of the curtain’s ties loose and the room darkened a little. The old lady relaxed. I walked to a bowl of water and splashed my face and then immersed a cloth into the cool liquid, I let it float there for a moment like an overturned boat and then pulled it out, I let it hang above the bowl and watched the water pour out and then I squeezed it in my fist. I wiped the old ladies face with it and I knew that she hated it. I think she was slowly becoming accustomed to the smell of death that was permeating from her skin and I knew that she would have seen it as the natural process.

I sat back down and I looked at her. I sat and I sadly remembered her bringing me to his house as a youth. She, although I was nothing to her, schooled me and set me on a course that I loved and hated her for.

Nothing of God was ever said between us for she knew that God had rendered my family apart but I now wonder what she was thinking of God. Or was it simply none of my concern what battles she was fighting in the depths of her heart, what visions she was seeing in her mind, and what peace she was or was not making with the perceived creator of her soul. It wouldn’t matter for much longer; for soon she will have run out of time and I will be alone in this city that has adopted me, trying to adjust to being the only one who hears the birds sing in the elm tree outside these windows.


I look at the old woman. I remember the first time she told me to infect her arm full of the medication that kept her numb and mute. That kept her alive but prepared me for her corpse. I did it as if it was a religious ceremony, as if I was bleeding a lamb, and then I did it to myself. I wanted to experience what ever it was that the old woman was feeling.

I pricked my arm and became the soldier and virgin all at once, the alpha and the omega. The rapist and the poet. I looked around me and it was nighttime, the sky having been tarred and all the stars tiny feathers.

I was back in Africa.

I kissed the ground, the only place in which I was happy, I kissed the ground and sat back up, I could hear the crickets and the marmots and the creatures of the night. In the distance there was a fire a Maasai song taking place around it, a great baobab stood behind them grand with its obesity, its branches raised to the sky like a preacher’s hands waving up to the heavens. I stood and started my walk towards it, I noticed on my way there was a hut so I stopped and said the word of entry ‘Hodi’ I heard ‘Karibu’-the word for welcome and stepped inside there was darkness but for a candle. An old man was within muttering and he lifted his hand up which held my old tin water decanter. It was full, I opened it and a hot liquid stew bubbled out. I held it to my lips and took a sip, It was a recipe I had tasted before, my mother’s, one she made often when I was a boy. I took another mouthful and held it in my mouth. I paused, and looked at the man who was lying on the floor of his hut smiling. His grin was so white against the darkness of his skin, I felt something in my mouth move and I spat the contents on the floor. There was a tail, the tail of a rat slithering about on the ground. I dropped the decanter and the old man started laughing. The tail started slithering toward me and I watched as it turned into an asp. I screamed and ran from the hut, I ran for the fire, for the Maasai who were always my friends I was shouting at them to help and they stood and faced me, there spears ready, they grabbed me and dragged me into an opening on the side of the baobab, it closed and I was pushed up the centre of the ancient trees hollow, then forced out a smaller hole to the side. The tree then caught hold of my shoes and I had become a branch- stiff and weathered, along side all the other branches on a tree in the only land I had ever loved.

It was then that I awoke. I had rolled off my chair and was lying on the floor. I slowly stood and I looked at the old lady. She was weakly struggling in her sleep, then she was still able speak albeit softly and in-between heavy breathes. She was whispering about Turkey and a bus. She would say a name that I had only heard her say but once when we first met. Over and Over. It would be the last word I would hear her say- Alexander.

And then she stopped talking.


~ by yesknow on April 4, 2011.

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