longing for things unknown

Guyanese people- men especially- have a love affair with songbirds. They spend thousands of dollars on them and mind them like babies, gathering only the tenderest shoots of grass and other delicacies for them. They take risks and pay bribes, smuggling them from the hinterland and over the seas. They can be seen every morning, gathered at the street corners and junctions. I don’t know what the men are talking about, but I know exactly what the caged birds are singing about.

There’s a column on rape and rape culture in my head. It needs to be written by noon on Wednesday. But every time I try to write, rage gets the best of me. It sticks in my craw, blinds me, and stops my hand. The fucking entitlement- on the part of men especially, who think they could just take what they want, whenever they want. The dearth of justice. The plethora of victims. The complicity of the community. Those who take better care of their birds than their children/families. Those who give and take money to make crimes disappear.

Civil society in Guyana is moribund. So says all the pundits, especially the ones who thrive online but who I’ve never seen standing up for anything in real life. What are you going to do about the X,Y,Z issue? I am asked over and over again. Laaaang suck teeth. What are YOU going to do? Those who sit and ask or who sit in silence or who sit and clap are all part of the problem. Those who pay more attention to their birds than anything else going on around them. Those who maintain the status quo.

The fog is upon me again. Everything feels gray. Joy is fleeting and scarce. There is too much crap to deal with and my resources are depleted. Only the children make me venture out. When I go other places, the presence of criminals, enablers, apologizers, and the blissfully and conveniently ignorant mars my enjoyment. I speak to friends and acquaintances from a far and scout escape routes again. I have started drinking hard alcohol again. The birds are too silent. Where are the songs of freedom? Longing for things unknown. Again and again.

Caged Bird

By Maya Angelou

A free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wing
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.
But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.
The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.
The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn
and he names the sky his own
But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.
The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.
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