‘they are only following orders’
and in this one familiar, lame excuse we sense the uselessness of criticism of those atrocities carried out on one another in our world.
As the UN Rohingya genocide report is just released, one wonders how this reveals anything in addition to what the whole world has already ‘witnessed’ [I acknowledge the colossal remove of this experience for most] at the actual time of its happening shown on our TVs: burning homes in the villages; the orderly horror of the escaping refugees.
In this constant context, The Unmoving by Maria Stadnicka probably doesn’t seek to move us – being realistic – but is so much more than reportage as its purposeful metaphors convey,
‘The gods hid in a poem
with a fresh loaf.
Just us now slicing away
to the end of my days’
Even the actual observers who report
‘I stumbled over a man in a pool of blood.
A bullet-hole in the back of his coat’
have their genuine care and concern usurped by a universally empty emotion expressed through the metaphor
‘A newspaper broke down in tears’
[both from Eyewitness 73]
It should be obvious, but I stress I am not dissing the metaphors. Their use in this collection matters and impacts, as
‘Death walked towards me, holding an empty paper-bag’
One of the two opening epigraphs to this collection is from Czeslaw Milosz
‘So much guilt behind them and such beauty’
and in the poem Movement you will read this ironic beauty in its expression [and note also the irony within the book’s title].
You’ll find the pathos too of such beautiful expression in the poem Migrant Bites. Day One.
In the title poem, the brutal realities of our world occur for all kinds of direct human action or inaction, like its reference to Rana Plaza, the garment factory in Bangladesh that collapsed in May 2013 killing 1,134 and injuring 2,500 – the result of structural failure and the indifference of owners when knowing of this the day before its collapse.
At the poem’s end we read
‘The ground settled between reference points’
and to me this represents that settling – that ‘acceptance’ – we adopt in a world riven with such daily tragedy [like the Myanmar reality].
All of this is the
apart from the fact it is avoided, though quite clearly not in these poems, as the poetry itself asserts
‘Each unavoidable thing has a squeal of its own’
which also presents one of the more beautiful/horrific of the book’s images in referencing children’s teeth.
These are poignant and pertinent poems – and they do move, by the way – from Maria Stadnicka and are in another fine Broken Sleep Book publication you can get here.