Friday, November 18, 2005

A Certain Man

I didn't write this one, but I really like it, and somehow it feels oddly relevant to the alone-ly world of cyberspace.

A certain man decided that life was too hard for him to bear. He did not commit suicide.
Instead he bought a large corrugated iron tank, and furnished it simply with the necessities of life – a bed to sleep on, books to read, food to eat, electric light and heating, and even a large crucifix hung on the wall to remind him of God and help him to pray. There he lived a blameless life without interruption from the world. But there was one great hardship.

Morning and evening, without fail, volleys of bullets would rip through the walls of his tank. He learnt to lie on the floor to avoid being shot. Nevertheless, he did at times sustain wounds, and the iron walls were pierced with many holes that let in the wind and the daylight, and some water when the weather was bad. He plugged up the holes. He cursed the unknown marksman. But the police, when he appealed to them, were unhelpful, and there was little he could do about it on his own.

By degrees he began to use the bullet holes for a positive purpose. He would gaze out through one hole or another, and watch the people passing, the children flying kites, the lovers making love, the clouds in the sky, the wind in the trees, and the birds that came to feed on heads of grass. He would forget himself in observing these things.

The day came when the tank rusted and finally fell to pieces. He walked out of it with little regret. There was a man with a gun standing outside.

“I suppose you will kill me now,” said the man who had come out of the tank. “But before you do it, I would like to know one thing. Why have you been persecuting me? Why are you my enemy, when I have never done you any harm?”

The other man laid the gun down and smiled at him. “I am not your enemy,” he said. And the man who had come out of the tank saw that there were scars on the other man’s hands and feet, and these scars were shining like the sun.

James K Baxter – from JERUSALEM DAYBOOK, 1971.


Blogger Shelley said...

Hey Mark

Great stuff! I read all your blog in one big yummy gobble and loved it all. Being in Aus I have been hungry and nostalgic for the poetry, poets and thoughts of NZ. Had just been listening to you and Brenda on Kaka Lodge CD, then got your email to check out the site...

Also have been of late pining for some James K Baxter and wishing I had brought my book of his poems over here with me. So it has been great to read this story thanks. The last couple of weeks I've often reminded of late of that last part of Poem in the Matukituki Valley - Therefore we turn hiding our souls from that too blinding glass, turn to the gentle dark of the human daydream, child and wife, patience of stone and soil, the lawful city where man may live and no wild tresspass of what's Eternal shake his grave of time.

Makes me ponder about whether I'm living in reality, and that perhaps reality is to somehow live in a sense of timelessness... and to learn to live longer and longer in those moments where time stands still.


10:46 pm  

Post a comment

<< Home