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Uncle Morgan (who heard voices)

In that grey pause

before the sun comes up,

a breeze combs the palm leaves,

moves down the valley.

On its breath an owl floats

back to its roost in the poui trees.

Down the hill, Ram’s one-eyed dog

Snaps and growls at empty air.

Morgan lights his flambeau.

Takes the pot from under the bed

and pisses an old man’s stream.

Fingers of light whiten the sky

as he wheezes and croaks –

“That bulbul devil don’t care nothing

for God’s good daylight.”

“Scratch here, child, no, higher, higher.

We scrape his scalp with a wooden comb.

Our fingers smell of sweet oil and tiger balm.

We chase the hot threads of his sickness

across the fragile knots of his hair.

His bulbul devil whispers in his head,

“How sweet the river runs.”

He burns his old merino vest

with a fist of leaves, slimed

in the heat of putrefaction –

Anything, man, to make a good smoke.

He lays his madness in its arms,

pounds his skull with the heel of his hand.

Black skin blackened, eyes bloodshot.

“Them people lef’ something bad for me,

put the devils in my head.”

Hawks into the fire.

We collude. Better this comfort

than the speckled sunlight that seeps

into the ward up at St Anne’s.

Uncle Morgan (who heard voices): Text
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