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PART OF THE Summer Reading ISSUE

‘Remember this time will pass / This silence that hangs heavy / In our streets and town squares / Will lift when this crisis is past’

Patient Dignity is the latest poetry collection from the brilliant Bashabi Fraser. Not only are Bashabi’s poems moving and powerful, but they are accompanied by gorgeous artwork by Vibha Pankaj. We hope this taster of Patient Dignity inspires you to find out more about this beautiful book.

 

Extract taken from Patient Dignity
By Bashabi Fraser and Vibha Pankaj
Published by Scotland Street Press

 

Suffused brightness, Oil and cold wax on canvas (2020) – Vibha Pankaj

 

Post-Truth Era

I
A dark churning has begun
In the murky depths of the ocean
It is writhing like a serpent
Under each continental shift
It is seething like an underwater volcano
Gathering heat and momentum in a fierce inferno.

II
It began in a crack that appeared
Between river bed and cliff
That seemed like a slow indicator
Of erosion and evolution –
The inevitable harbinger of change.

III
Before we could return from the brink
Of the river, the crack had widened
Like a gaping wound, a chasm
That we couldn’t leap across,
A cavernous emptiness we couldn’t bridge.

IV
Then the river lurched in fear
Beholding the oceanic cauldron rise
Like a hooded cobra hissing death.
It glowed with tongues of fire,
It left us cowering in our narrow corners.

V
We have willed the walls to rise
Driven drones into your skies
We have commanded the sea
To swallow boats that flee
From hell’s own gates
Where hunger awaits
For those who must remain.

VI
But somewhere in this chasmed world
An old familiar song floats free
‘Remember I’ll always be true
And when I’m away
I’ll write home everyday
And I’ll send all my loving to you
…And hope that my dreams will come true.’
A song
Freed from the shackles of untruth –
It rises above alleys
It dances over valleys
It comes like a mist unfurled
It brings the radiance of hope
In these dark times when we grope
For a world which we knew
Where love of me for you
Was unchallenged and true.

 

The shining star, Oil on canvas (2020) – Vibha Pankaj

V Remember
Remember this time will pass
This silence that hangs heavy
In our streets and town squares
Will lift when this crisis is past

Remember this time will pass
When shop windows, now dark and interiors empty
Will open their doors and turn on their lights
And echo our footsteps when we return.

Remember this time will pass
When cafes, pubs and restaurants,
Now robbed of camaraderie and custom
Will hear our chatter and laughter again.

Remember this time will pass
When bus and train stations now idle
And deserted, will wake up to the bustle
Of commuters and travellers jostling for space.

Remember this time will pass
When the serenity of the sky above
Where birds fly with carefree abandon
Will be pierced and cross-crossed by multiple planes.

Remember this time will pass
When we distance ourselves
From our parents and grandparents
And we can return to their side and revive.

Remember this time will pass
When meals with our friends
And receptions and revelry recalled with longing,
Will recur again when we gather for celebrations anew.

Remember this time will pass
When portals of culture in theatres and cinemas
Museums and galleries, now hushed in silence
Will open their doors to audience applause.

Remember this time will pass
When national parks and gardens,
Playparks and beaches, barricaded today
Will see children frolic and walkers and joggers amble across.

Remember this time will pass
When schools and nurseries,
Universities and libraries will move from being online
To see avid learners invading classrooms, corridors and shelves

Remember this time will pass
When our healers and carers
Cleaners and sustainers, stretched beyond endurance
Need to be valued, always once the terror subsides.

Remember this time will pass,
But can we then pause to see what we’ve lost
And consider deeply the earth’s vital message
To cut back on excess or confront the cost?

 

(3)

XXVI Patient dignity: a Snail

Making slow progress
a solitary walker
on our garden path

Aerial pinpricks
sensitive radars alert
to every danger

Pragmatic migrant
carrying his house on his back
braving all weather

Patient dignity
reaching his destination
where a leaf awaits.

 

Patient Dignity by Bashabi Fraser and Vibha Pankaj is published by Scotland Street Press, priced £9.99.

You can watch Bashabi Fraser take part in BooksfromScotland’s Scottish Books Long Weekend over on the Publishing Scotland YouTube channel here.

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