Thursday, November 14, 2013

White Owl of Wisdom and of Healing - A Poem by Kyi May Kaung

White Owl of Wisdom and of Healing:  A Poem by Kyi May Kaung.

The Poet is arguing with his mother
he is saying, I can't do it
I can't do it
the woman is so fat!

The one I really want is--
This was the pretty girl who came to play chess
with the poet who was born with weak legs and has TB.

But his mother will not hear of it.
Could not overhear what the mother said but maybe
she said something like this:

That woman has money.  20 million, 30 million 60 million she is from a commercial family
she can look after you.

But she is so fat! 
I am a poet of delicacy
it would be OK if she only
had some redeeming features
like pretty eyes but No

she's a rolling pot of lard
already at what is it 25? she looks like she's 50,60.
And oh the voice!
Like molten lead poured down my ears
like cracked--glass.

Mother don't make me
sleep near that every night
I would feel as if
I am wallowing in a pond of tallow
I'd rather
take my own life.

But his mother like most mothers won't hear of it.


When I was growing up the lovely bright attractive little girl came often to visit
with her parents
she'd jump on and off
the single step from the shrine room to our
upstairs veranda.

She had so much brain they joked
it filled her little round head and her bulging little forehead

so that, they said, when she fell over
she always fell forward.

Later that shrine room
became the scene of one or two
unwelcome touchings before
I learned, how to protect myself.

You must stand close to the perpetrator and have witnesses so he can't stretch his arm to stab you.

My parents were not able to teach me karate and shortly after, my father died and my mother
all her life terrified of being left alone without a servant
did not fire the serpent.

But we moved and in the crowded house the servant
could not come into the house to molest me.

--Fast forward another decade and a half
how I wish I could to that in reality.

When I get back from 8 months, in Poland, the young lady
with the prominent forehead and the super IQ

comes to tea one day and she is so beautiful
she is so soignee
her hair is swept up in a French roll

she touches my brooch bought in Poland
with the black design on it
made with a  branding iron
burning hot searing
scarring the soft
white pine

Two weeks later she is dead.

The rumor was she killed herself because her mother was having an affair, with the poet she was in love with.

I don't know.

At the "after the funeral" daytime wake
there were so many flowers a big bouquet
of purple cattleya.

I asked if the professor her father was coming.

Her mother a vivacious woman said, "He won't
he has no courage."

Fast forward another 15 years:

I am in Calendrelle, Maryland.  Joe K.H.
and Scallion Shoot are relating to me
all their troubles with the Physics professor
who wanted to visit, but Joe told him:

It's not a good time to visit.

They are telling me--We have adolescent children
and   you can't trust that man
and you can't trust that woman and you can't invite them over together
because they are no longer together

He's with a Russian woman.
Later he was with a Vietnamese, a Cambodian, a Caucasian and an Indian woman, who painted these big portraits of the Buddha, all blue, I don't know why.

Scallion Shoot said there is some credence to the theory
that the child killed herself
due to the mother and the poet.

When we went on home leave while Christianne
was still alive
the mother was going out on a date with the poet,
Scallion Shoot said, she was so concerned about her appearance.

Is my makeup right?
Is my hair OK?
My ear rings
the flowers
in my hair?

Shall I change my longyi
do I look better in blue or in mauve?

Scallion Shoot told me other stories,
some of which I can repeat
some of which I cannot

The Prof. wanted to stay longer, they told me.

But in the end, Ko Toe took care of it.


Oh, he went into the guest room
to get his fiber glass skis to go skiing
in Montana, and in doing so he accidentally kicked
that heavy rug over the heat vent.

And in the morning, the Prof. was actually blue with cold
I mean BLUE.
He was shivering and his lips were blue.

After breakfast he left.

We call it "Big Toe's Revenge on the Professor for making Eyes at his Sisters."

Jump back from there 20 years to 1962.

The Institute has been closed for 4 months
they are giving us re-education classes
a.k.a. brainwashing--
this history lecturer just stood up
fat woman also and said
"Are we going to have two histories then--the Truth and the Party's version, specially written?"

In the asbestos ceilings of the Eco. Inst.
there are big jagged holes where the students went up to hide
the army treated them like the proverbial enemy
used live ammunition
and blockaded the University for 4 months flat
plugged the drains and starved
the students out.

It was after they'd cleaned up physically
that they started the delicate job
of washing brains, first taking them out
and photographing them.

In 1976 after the U Thant ah yay a khin
I ran upstairs about 5 PM to fetch
a book I had forgotten
to prepare
for the next day's
Eco. History lecture.

A great white owl with a wingspan, as wide as my two arms both outstretched
swished silently over my head
and flew out the open black door.

The breeze its wings agitated
created swept up my fringe

It was so silent.
I have never experienced anything that Silent.

I am sure it was the combined ghosts of all the dead students.

I am sure when it flew past like that
inches over my head
it laid an egg like a bomb
into my hair.

And now here is that egg hatching, Garudas as well as Owls, making, such an infernal noise, these dinosaur hatchlings.

And here are you on the other side of the world, saying, Go to bed.  Go to bed!  You'd better sleep.
You need to sleep.

And here's to the White Owl and to all the poets, sane and insane
to Christianne and everyone
wronged by their mothers
and even all the parents
good dead and ugly
and even evil.

May you rest in Peace
may you reach

Copyright Kyi May Kaung 11-14-2103

Note:  Characters are fictional or fictional composites--there is no one on one correspondence between a character represented here and a real person.  They are used in a symbolic manner.