• Vol. 04
  • Chapter 10

Three Lessons


We discover their country
Bring with us our language
We teach them to worship our God
In rows designated – here – for the Y
And here for the almost X
Sit in the space between you
Who do not have names
And wait to reach the lovely white lines
All of us were descended from
(apes the sapiens of paradise)
Some of us know how to pray.
We will transport you
Or hang you
In the British Museum.


They come to our country try
To speak our language
We gift them to our Gods
Our names are passed down not
Carved on headstones
We dance for ourselves.
Know things.
They say they come in peace
Try to develop
This earth: here the water, there the treasure
Scratch lines on paper, land
Ships, big bellied, hungry.


Three Lessons


I saw my first cross-section one October
At school, (where we were assembled each morning,
To eat the body and drink the blood.)
It would have been around 1700, ’89, and cold grey winter, bleak mid coming.
After the lesson of the day, and love your neighbour as yourself
My mother stood in the playground in her sari,
Next to her –
Dorothy Perkins, Laura Ashley,
waiting for Miss Selfridge and Tammy girls - I thought I could buy in, one day.
With eyes made square by history teaching
I saw my friends. The ones I had shouted Snap! at, just the afternoon before
gloved hands to pale faces: fingers splayed –
White skin showing through black masks.