Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Juggling Bricks

There is a scarlet red spot circling its way in a rectangular frozen partition that does not move, so it seems. On whichever inch of the circle’s circumference Zahraa´ imagines herself crawling, comfortably, the view hardly changes. She is a bilious bug, without prickly wings but with a mouth wide enough to suck unoccupied air, lagging behind a never-ending cord leading to the top of the fortress.
Zahraa´ stands. Alert. Ahead is a vista. Devoid of presence. This wall is tall, grey, concrete and naked, when her eyes are half closed. Once they relax, big black block letters - a signature - read: ‘prohibited area’.
She pictures an expanding landscape, airy not arid, piercing her to life. An impression of an immense light sky suddenly becoming real. As her eyes grow larger and her vision clearer into the distance, her body swells, encircling the wall she wishes to crumble.
Insulated from this side of life, the wall on the other side is made of thin air. Everything around her is hovering, but can this be real? If we were floaters on either side we’d see the missing feathers of the doves.
Zahraa’ is not there, yet. Will she ever pass over, creeping, panting, fretting? Where to - the other side? Which side is she on? If she crosses this wall, will the sky feel silky, or the sun smell balmy? Are the colours of the surroundings syrupy or are they faint like the long narrow closing of this setting, cornering her foresight?
Thick blood travels in her cheeks.
She runs without moving.
She stumbles on a ...
gap … she falls into a
shallow silence…
then pauses.
Between her steel blue hands
and the aloof wall.
swirls a bustling bee.
An intrusion or interruption?
She doesn’t yet know.
She turns back.
Begins again.
Distance repeats itself.
Existence repeats itself.
Existence/distance, again.
She is locked in a wall
hindering her vision.
When her eyelashes touch.
A city without walls performs.
Forgotten and remembered.
Contracted bodies unfurl.
White lilies bloom under
red-lipped giggling toddlers.
Endless acres of unsullied moist land
on which to carve freedom.
The wind whirls at a supple speed,
on that side of the wall.
Her mind moves.
Walls ahead.
Walls aside.
Walls behind.
Walls beyond her.
Her body shrivels
under the stalking wall.
Her brain now still.
Inside a vat.
off the wall.
Without a trace.
The final number
that never gushed
out the aching mouth
of a gripped gambler.
A grave game of
meaning and escape.
The shadow of her body
projected on the grey wall.
Restricted movements
recorded on the wall.
The slower Zahraa´ moves…
walls multiply.
Like troops lining up to deter
from crossing over.
She crawls closer
clasping herself away
from the colossal canvas.
She stretches her frail frame.
Her shade enlarges.
Fear matures
as she struggles
to grasp her reassuring other
on that side of the wall.
Which must fall.
In her numbness,
her stiffness detects the …
ironic smell of habitual walking.
Grime sneaks between her toes.
And the sound of her half smile
(a crease in her shadow)
bounces echoless
from the wall.
As her terse voice hollers
Aren’t all spaces that produce fear forbidden places in one way or another?
Is it also not true that towns and frontiers under enemy control breed terror?
Dedicated to all the Palestinian people who continue every day to live inside a real wall.
Maria Petrides, 2007
Writer and PhD candidate
appeared in Arteri arts magazine, distributed in Cyprus and at the Serpentine Gallery, London

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