I read the news, the dangers of Trump suppressing Russia’s interference in the election, and try to stay calm.

I find comfort in this poem by Denise Levertov.

WITNESS

Sometimes the mountain

is hidden from me in veils

of cloud, sometimes

I am hidden from the mountain

in veils of inattention, apathy, fatigue,

when I forget or refuse to go

down to the shore or a few yards

up the road, on a clear day,

to reconfirm

that witnessing presence.

~ Denise Levertov ~

I continue to read Hisham Matar’s amazing book The Return.

I’ve always been entranced by a Tibetan who was imprisoned and tortured, and yet, upon release was grateful he never judged or lost compassion for his captors.

Now I read of Matar’s Uncle Mahmoud who was imprisoned for years in Abu Salim prison in Tripoli, Libya along with many others including the author’s father, for opposing Qaddafi.  

Mahmoud says: “They beat me, deprived me of food and sleep, tied me down, spilled a bucketful of cockroaches on my chest. There is nothing they didn’t do.  Nothing can happen to me now that can be worse than that time. And always, I managed it. I kept a place in my mind, where I was still able to love and forgive everyone. They never succeeded to take that from me.”

I marvel at that.

Then Hmad speaks of that time in the prison.

There was a standoff between prisoners and guards. 

“Something strange happened. You are not going to believe it, but I swear to you on my children’s life. One of the prisoners killed, his body remained exactly the same, only a little paler in the cheeks, but otherwise unchanged. It smelt of musk. We didn’t have musk or such things in the prison. And the face of the prison guard who had been dead the same number of hours was now black and his body bloated like a balloon and stinking horribly.  We all marveled at this.”

I marvel too.

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