Poetics

demolishing a mental institution

is it, for instance, like the demolishing of a church,
consulting the plans from Solomon’s great,
starting from the altar, the tabernacle, moving towards pillars,
where are the hymn books donated to,
the pamphlets advertising choir practice, vigils, jumuia,
where does the congregation go next Sunday, is there an exit plan,
do they give up worship,
do they build temples of each other,
the angels, the saints, do they find other homes,
like madness, does God follow them everywhere,
what becomes of their knees,
hurting from too much kneeling,
what becomes of greetings after Mass when they linger,
anxious to go home and start a big lunch,
what becomes of sermons that, although meant to heal,
are quickly forgotten, and they must go back home,
the bread, what becomes of it,
who becomes the new master in charge, the warden?
what becomes of the old lady who sells rosaries?
or, is this demolition like the foreclosure of a failing gallery?
who has failed – the institution or the artist?
or those now without a church, those who prolong healing.
what happens to all those installations and paintings in need of care?
and my uncle, now back home after years behind their bars,
presents a paper on certain cichlids and a blood parasite.
dreaming of nights in Marrakesh, he makes a call for sallah,
a smile of victory on his face, saying: you think you could get
rid of me so easily, me, now without a church? who do you think started the fire? the exit plan? the cleaning up?
who do you think summons God in these parts?
who is warden and who the timekeeper,
who restores the old paintings of dictators,
who curves tiny birds from the bones of dead lovers?

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