So bravely beneath the manganeses sky of
The holy city where Christ first saw light of day
The Babylonian merchant carried heavy loads
Of dates and pickled olives
Treading the stony ground with calloused feet
Rending the blinding walls of the street with his cries

He descended warily
In carpet slippered splendour
The babylonian fruit vendor
He sang to me his simple song
It won’t be long he trilled
Before the coffers of the earth are filled
With the smell of pine-apples
And on the basis of that spiky fruit
A suit of indescribable beauty will be woven.
I passed
In thongs created from the fibrous innards
of the copra tree
And cocked my head in contemplative
The words that he had spoken
Contained the precious message I had sought
His voice rang out so clearly!
The words were so lucid!
I looked down at my own tattered garments
All at once ashamed at their drabness

He came down to me
The Babylonian fruit vendor
His sienna feet padding on
the marble steps
So, right up to me, he walked
’ My lad ‘, he shouted
’ You are halfway there. Don’t stop or pause,
And one day, the garment of which I spoke
Will be yours’
’ And the succulent fruit of all the earth
Will grace your table
I balked at such grandiose offerings
’ Oh sir’, I said, ’ I am unworthy of such a treat!’
’ Nay ‘, he replied
’ It is your due…’
‘… For you have breached the bounds of everyday things
And have begun your transcendance
Of all things ordinary
’ The cloak is not so much a privilege
But a due
And not without its responsibilities
For, once having worn it
You will never again be
of the same substance
As your previous humble self
And, for a while, your distress will become doubly
For, answerable only to yourself,
You will become, as me, immortal
And will wander the world with questing
You will never again starve or want for
The cloak will protect you
From the wildest winter snows
And shade you from the desert sun
Sword or shield you will no longer need
People will know you whenever they
see you
’ However, if you should refuse this gift
You will never be the same again
You will tread the highways and the by-ways
of the earth
A mere husk
beating your brow at every moment
For opportunities missed
Your brow will be furrowed by bitterness
And all things, no matter how
Will appear as of extreme dullness’
With this,
He stood as at a distance
And stared at me thoughtfully
Awaiting my considered reply
While I
Racked my pitiful brain
What choice was I offered?
The Cloak
And its resulting acclaim?
Or ignominy of the worst kind.
A life of self-redress
That will continue into eternity?
Selby, Vic., 1976




SYDNEY, Australia

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  • Guntis Jansons
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