The Whirler

At dawn
if you creep up
quite close to my brain
you will hear all sorts of
snorts and grumblings
as a motley crew of workers
are creaking out of bed
getting the show ready
for the world if it
wants it.

Birdbeak
is clearing her throat
in anticipation of the
Debating Society’s
daily throng of one
(herself) to be quietly
seated for her assassination
of ideas and opinions
to begin.

‘Sirs,’ she squawks, ‘and
Madams, I put it to you
that the hippie ideal is a
shallow pretence of
great wisdom and
authoritative advice,
dressed up in a spidery
rasta wig, smelling faintly
of beer nad
old sweat. They
disguise their acute
judgmentality
of others, disdain
for alternatives
to their Alternative,
as Chilling The Hell Out
and Letting Things Flow,
whilst fuming inside
is a small moustached fascist
dictating how everyone
should live and believe.
I think I have stated my case
rather well, don’t you?’

Meanwhile, in a room
littered with guitar strings
and passed-out partygoers
a cantaora is rising at this
most unholy hour to catch the
bombona man (the gas
bottle’s low). Her wild
red-streaked hair is still
nest-like, mascara from
last night’s performance
a mad hash of black
under mad flashing eyes.
She doesn’t deign to talk;
her voice rips the air
after midnight, when lava
built up in her chest
will scorch ears in a cascade of
hoarse-throated passion,
heels stamping, hips snapping,
hands grabbing invisible oranges
plucking them free from trees
searching for real sweetness
amid anguish. Her singing
is melody inverted, no
little girl laugher to tinkle in
its canal. She is pure, raw, hot
woman-fire, longing for rain
and her song spits and crackles
with sobs of old pain. But this morning
she’s grumbly, a dressing-gowned
mess, in pink fluffy slippers, fresh
fag on her lip, tobacco-stained scowl
sending Mr Bombona
scurrying off to
another address.

Outside in the gardens
beyond Lava’s room
under palm trees on patios
mirrored with pools of
cool water with flashes of orange
and white, Green Earth Child’s
bum is straight up in the air
(the blood rushes down to
the head, very good for the
pituitary gland, so they say).
Her hair wafts about straggly
ants crawl round her ankles
dirt underlining quick-darting fingers
scritching out scratchy weeds:
some of them she nibbles on,
remembering their Latin names
and nutritional benefits; she is
oxygen-drunk in the company
of leaves.

Up in the attic
a songwriter huddles,
chewed Biro and paper
cradled in hands that
close and open, sculpting
the shape of this feeling
or that. Now music is
called out of emptiness,
notes throb and clash and
reverberate in the wooden vessel
pressed against her chest.
A creature’s being birthed
through the soundhole
intuitive action
essential to let it emerge
head first, twisting when
twisting’s needed to free
its four limbs: no rush.
It’s born and she licks it
into life, cleans away
the viscera that kept it
waiting in sacred darkness
safeguarding its secret
til it tastes air and is kissed
by the angel that makes it
forget all it knows. The song
is alive and the silence that
grew it is gone.

In a liminal space
at once inside and out
there is a fifth being,
her head tilted lightly
eyes closed to soak up the
Grace as is falls softer than
snow, melting into her spin
as she whirls in her own
private snowstorm. Her
white robe unfurls in a
circular sail billowing
out in an oceanic wave
transcribing airborne
acrobatics on unseen
vertices of Dunya and
Here-and-Now Paradise.
One arm is raised up
to let Light trickle down,
cross her shoulders and wet
the bare earth, cool the
faces of all the inmates
of this ramshackle home
in a rose-water mist.
But the Whirler herself is
immune to sensations,
so rapt in the Real that
no substitute bothers to
try and convince her.

The Whirler’s the one
who is mostly ignored, though
the sight of her levitating
UFO-like over towns and
green mountains should
make us break out into
ecstatic cheers. But she’s too
bloody true, so incredibly
real that the rest of this outfit
gets bored with her
serenity.

I sit on the hem of
her skirt as it rises and falls
and I watch as the cycles of
heartbreak and hope follow on
while the feet that the whole
crazy circus is pivoting on
are sure-footed
and
never
once
lose
their
rhythm.

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