Saturday, October 08, 2016

What We Build

I came across these words in a poem I was reading this afternoon -“Was Blind” by Dave Harrity. It was a poem, for the most part, I didn’t really understand.

“There are words we haven’t ever made with our mouths,
But that we built with our hands.”

Earlier in the day I was flicking through Facebook as I was eating my breakfast. There was a youtube link. A very creative dad had built a ninja assault course in his back garden. I watched, and held my breath, as a wee girl hopped, skipped and jumped from one part of the course to another.  There was a row of every doll and every cuddly toy she possessed watching and cheering her on. A little clock in the corner registered her time as she made her way around the obstacles. There must have been a button to press at the end of the course and she jumped up and down with delight. It was amazing.

I thought of every child in the neighbourhood queueing up to have a go and a leader board being fixed somewhere.  Of course, health and safety issues would not permit that to happen.

I am sure that every day her father told her how much he loved her. They were words spoken with the mouth, but what he had built with his hands also spoke a message of love. Perhaps it put a little bit of pressure on all the dads in the neighbourhood to come up with something equally impressive.

When I read the two lines of the poem I didn’t think of the youtube clip straight away. I thought about the things that we build with our hands and came up with Auschwitz. What a horrible thing to build! And what it says about how we regard people who are not “us”. And how we don’t speak out loud about the incarceration and death of so many people, but we whisper. It was never a proud moment in anyone’s history – never something to cheer or to celebrate – though people did, and still do.

I went on to think about the other things we build with our hands, or plan to build - Donald Trump and his wall along the border with Mexico.

Or perhaps it’s to build a new road and uproot a row of ancient oak trees.

Or perhaps the things that we build are not physical things at all but made from words, not spoken but written – zero hours contracts that some workers prefer, but many workers dislike, that really favour the employer more than the employee. Or re-writing human rights laws because it doesn’t suit “us” to treat “them” with such respect that it costs us “too much”. Not so much building something but dismantling it.

There are just some things we shouldn’t allow other people to build.

Then I remembered the youtube clip – the dad building the ninja assault course for his daughter. It’s encouraging to know that there are people that are building a good things with their hands, or with their words, spoken and written. 

What are you building?

I am building my second book of poetry which makes it was to the publisher sometime this week! Thanks to all the people who have been a part of the project.

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