what if the junkie
begging nextdoor my workplace
— a black girl face and
soul eaten up by hunger —
what if that girl were Anna?

There is something terribly wrong with goodness and light and safety and security and happiness and love and fulfilment and health and fatness. How privileged I am, to have lived through so many years of utter deprivation, earlier in my life — financial, psychological, emotional, social, nutritional — I had nothing at all whatsoever in my life. Except, actually, my mother. I seem to have forgotten what it is, to suffer agonising anguish and mental torture every moment of every day. Surely THAT was real life — not this relatively happy, fulfilled, contented life I’m living now? Fortunately I was never into drugs at all. Mostly these days when beggars ask me for money, I can notice some extremely faint flickerings of compassion in myself. I can see my previous life in them, just a little bit — hardly at all, but just a little bit. Occasionally I give them money or food. With this particular junkie however, who begs on the street nextdoor to where I work, I feel nothing but revulsion. She popped into my mind for some reason as I reflected this morning on last night’s dream, which was of Anna, the girl I fell in love with as a teenager. In my dream, she was still on the same old pedestal. In real life, it was an unrequited love in the sense that she refused me, although I persisted in believing for several years that she loved me, based on the evidence of my own dreams. Whatever the truth of that — I learned an enormous amount from believing it. My poem brings together these utterly opposite female figures — Anna and junkie — and makes them one. I suppose they stand, respectively, for the two opposite extremes of fulfilment and deprivation which my own life has shown me and which I struggle to make sense of, on an ongoing basis. I feel like I’m living in a bubble of fulfilment, just waiting for it to burst and for the real world outside — the world of extreme suffering — to come flooding back in.


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