Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cassandra: A Bedtime Story

(You will recall that Cassandra, daughter of Priam and Hecuba and sister of Paris and Hector, had the gift of prophecy, but was condemned by Apollo always to be disbelieved. It was she who foresaw the fall of Troy.)

Once upon a time, in the 1950's,
There was a child,
Brand new in the world, and fragile,
And scared shitless of the Bomb.

She had nightmares every night
Of that monster Bomb,
And she screamed and screamed
But it wouldn't go away.

And every night she peed in the bed.
The bedsheets were sopping,
She couldn't help it.
That monster was going to eat her up.

So her parents took her to a shrink,
To shrink the gigantic,
The earth-shaking terror,
Down to the size of an imperceptible squint.

Now she is a woman grown, a peacemaker,
Who addresses rallies
In the ringing voice of lifelong conviction,
Sowing sweet reason like seeds.

But always there, inside her dark eyes,
Soft and smouldering,
Lurks that small, bed-wetting child,
Helpless before the Bomb.

And behind her sweet reasonable words
Is the high voice of that child,
Screaming, "Listen. Please listen.
There are more of them now."

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