Sunday, November 01, 2009

26 The fallen warriors

Saturday October 31, 2009:

“Veiled by clouds, the moon shines down.
Across the undulating belly of the earth,
A snake of silent people move.
Connect, remember, honour
Our fallen warriors; our dear beloved dead.”

“It’s an ash tree not a lime”, Declares one of my companions as we stride across the tussocky heath. The sky fizzes with fireworks. The moon peeps out from behind hazy clouds.

We circle the tree, make sacred space and call our ancestors.
We light candles and place them at the bottom of the tree. The smell of the wax reminds me of the smell of the air of Trafalgar Square last night and the hundreds of candles burning at the foot of an impromptu stage. Another gay man has been murdered. The community gathers to say “no more, enough is enough!”

I call the spirits of our fallen warriors, my brothers and sisters in struggle from all communities. AS we stand in circle around the tree, I feel them walking across the heath towards us, streaming in from all directions, from all communities.

The snake of silent walkers swings round the tree, moves through the veil (a piece of blackpaterned net swinging from a branch of the tree. Foot in front of foot, we move, connected with silvery ribbons, we move as one behind the drummer.

The grass hisses on either side of me. I feel the presence of many feet. Without speech, connected heart to heart, they tell me their stories. I learn of their lives and how they were ended.

At first they tell me, it was the names, solo initially and then a hail of hate. Of course it was never to end there. A blow, a blade, , a brick, a boot, a blaze of searing light; shit covered nails, arching through the air, smashing into flesh. In the moment before oblivion, the inconsequential thought and then the heart-stopping spasm of fear. Disbelief turns into certainty back into disbelief again.

My flesh shrinks as though it receives the blows; I feel my anger rise and the tears come. “Why” I say to myself, “how can we be so hated?”

“It’s because we are different”, the dead ones whisper. “It’s our very existence which challenges the status quo, the acceptance of normality”, they say. And of course I know this and know too that it has been so since the beginning of time.

”Say no to hate crimes” I hear the dead whisper. And I know that this is what I must do. I must use words to fight the hatred, to change it, stop it.

The walkers swing round and through the veil, circle the tree, hold hands and connect. Behind its sheltering branches, the dead of my community stand and wait until it is time to go.

Silently, we bid farewell to our dear beloved dead. I turn and bow towards my brothers and sisters in struggle, still standing silently watching, beyond the tree’s shelter. They turn and move away, walking in all directions. Long grass swishes beneath their feat as they move back into the night.


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