Lessons in Weariness


As I lie on my back

at the edge of Parliament Square,

I stare up at the canopy of

plane tree leaves above me

and the clouds grazing the sky,

and I don’t feel fear or anger

or any of those things

I’ve felt before.

This time I just feel

weary of it all.

Weary that no matter what we do,

those in their ivory towers will

keep ripping up the rule book of

morality and decency and

carelessly tossing it

into the fire.

Weary of the slow marching.

Weary of the knowledge that

our courage could light

every candle that burns

but our bodies are too few.

Weary of the apathy,

the lack of integrity, the

You’re so brave but I could never do that,

the passive-aggressive commentary,

the averted gaze and

swift change of subject.

Weary of the way my country

helps to fuel wars, waving hands

that drip with blood

whilst simultaneously strutting

proud as a peacock to show how

civilised we are,

how democratic,

a beacon for the rest of the world.

Bone weary of the lies.

Of the harm.

There are several officers surrounding me,

urging me to get up and

walk to the van.

You could be injured, you know,

if we try to carry you.

But how do I tell them I’m weary of their complicity

and they’re already hurting me

without laying a finger on me;

that they have a role to play

and this could be a beautiful

opportunity if they’d only mine

their moral courage.

So I just shake my head and

say I’m not moving.

I’m lugged into a van like a

ten kilo sack of potatoes and

later I lie on a thin plastic mattress

beneath a blue blanket for the

third time this year,

blinking up at a sign stamped onto

the ceiling, stating ‘Criminals Beware.’

And the weariness that I am

being locked in a police cell

for wanting to protect my

children threatens to engulf me,

while somewhere in the same city,

the real criminals sit

cloistered with their

canapes and champagne.

Two hours in and I

haul my weariness up

from the mattress to place

my call. And the kindness 

of the words from this woman

from back office I’ve never met

and probably never will

floors me, shakes me out

like a tree shedding her leaves.

Thank you for your courage,

she says.

Thank you for what you’re doing.

But I don’t feel brave,

and when I leave the call,

the tears come and I weep

for those in Palestine,

for those whose homes and lives are lost

to flood and wildfire,

for the creatures of the

earth, sky and sea

whose numbers plummet,

for the uncertain terrain

today’s children inherit.

But most of all, I cry

for the surprising, disarming

nature of kindness

and I wonder, how can we

turn this into a revolution?

How can we infiltrate the

draughty corridors of

Whitehall with the

warmth of kindness?

How can we infuse the

bones of those who grow

heavy with the weight of their

own, glowing importance with

tenderness and care?

How can we get them to lie on

their backs in Parliament Square

or any patch of land generous

enough to hold them and gaze

up at each tree, each bird and

each leaf printed like miracles

against the sky as they did when

they were children?

How can we get them to feel,

to know,

to understand,

to truly breathe in

how much we will lose?

The flap opens.

Are you ok? The station officer asks.

Perhaps he can see I’ve been crying.

He brings me a coffee

and asks what I’m writing

in my notebook, if it’s

going to be a best seller.

I’m writing about you, I say.

No, really?

I nod.

But why? he asks.

I pause, hear the steady hum

of the room and wonder about

all the people who have sat

on this narrow blue mattress

before me and how no doubt

kindness has eluded them

again and again.

I’m writing about my sadness,

I finally say.

And I’m writing about kindness.

About you being kind.

And now it’s his turn to be

disarmed, his face

suddenly naked and

confused before he smiles

uncertainly, closes the flap.

I sit on the bed,

watch the light from

outside grow dim, sip black coffee

and think that perhaps this is all

we have left; that we must disarm

the world and all those who seek to stamp

it down with kindness,

that we must pass this

chain of compassion like prayer beads

from one to another,

whispers from the future

that enclose us in their embrace,

that say

I know you are weary.

I know this is hard.

But you cannot see what we are looking at.

So I catch these whispers,

hold my fist tight around them,

and when I am released

from my cell, I fling

these voices to the

darkness and watch as

the night receives them one by one,

lighting up the sky in

a beautiful, blazing rebellion

seeded from weariness,

from tears,

and from the courage of a multitude of

tender, beating hearts.

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