The seven day song cycle


The seven day song cycle
Two: Sheila

em = By Tony Smith

Sheila, eyes yellowed from grief,

looked into mine, glassy with shame

"I love you", she said

"I love you, you know."
Her uncle squatting propped

against the tree beside her

smiled his gap-toothed grin

and winked

"She loves everybody", he said

gesturing long-fingered at his waist.
Sheila is long dead and will be longer

killed by the white lady

survived only by syndrome babies

but I remember with some pride

the day she said "I love you".
She was of people who know so well

the word's true meaning

who measure it in sacrifice

and having borne its pain so long,

must understand the feeling.
She knew I could not love her back

knew I did not want her love

it was a ritual, a kind of act

demanding to be played

to its tragic end —

and hers.
Today I sometimes dare to think

Sheila might be living still

had she but known before too late,

if, in even slight degree

someone civilised had shown to her —

the sober ways of hate.

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