I have been, for many years,
crouched at the knees
with trousers tucked up into my stomach
and with my sleeves rolled up
so that it is all the easier to pick up
the shattered pieces of glass
that lay along my path.
I remember it clearly the moment it broke,
if I must recall it;
’twas not an article that I held dearly close
nor even knew I had,
it was simple glass;
mine, reflecting a face – mine,
and though others would grab it to view themselves,
the mirror was mine, not yours.
So how it happened, well, you drew close,
arms thick, so strong, your chest, puffed out,
your ego so much wider, and with a slight prick
of a needle of your own making,
the balloon erupted and out came seething
your arms, so wide, so strong,
round my neck so thin
my face so alien
as it turned beetroot red and collapsed,
and that was the shattering of the glass.
I’ve been ever since upon the floor
picking pieces up, peering upwards,
waving helloes to passersby and now
the posture’s become second nature
with bows, smiles, the how d’you do’s,
all swept into my knees, roughed knees
sucked into the downward glances and
accumulated dust and grey
shimmering underneath my fingernails.
My position, my class
not street sweeper by occupation
but street dweller now from force, and how?
How was blood not thicker than, than what?
Minor victories of your superiority,
held over my head for a decade and more,
force escalated, enforced, threatened,
how was blood not thicker than a wallet
and possessions not even yours?
And how? How did the protectorates
rush to your side and defend your ailments
stating they were in your mind
and never treat mine, was it all my fault?
Was I so divine to forgive and forget,
so strong to stand on my own
and witness that justice was never met?
Since then I’ve never stood up tall for the pickings of glass
are all I have done, do not look at me,
as I have no face and in place I’ve just got a broken frame,
jagged reasoning all cellotaped together to say
this is me now, hello, how do you do, don’t mind me
I’m looking for glass, glass, glass, grass?
I’ve forgotten now for what I stoop
for what I pick up, for my hands are covered in grass,
covered in soot, and somewhere behind
me on this path is a trail left of glittering sun
that cries like diamond tears.
– j. NG