Dream of Escape

As the nightwatch  drags to an end,
the august moon over the watch tower
flees upon the grey wings of a lone moth.

The southern sea gives up her dead
Unto the leaden shore, while a solitary turtle
digs a shallow grave beneath indifferent starlight

Blood clots, under mist cloaked skies,
on the road to Galaha*, as leaches cower
from silent footfall

The Mahawatte** hills look down
a cottage burning in silence, a mimosa on the threshold
sheds its filaments, through a dream from a long time ago

Bride of the night blooms over rusted barbed wire
amongst smashed pot shards.
And the jasmine spreads its scent on the shreds of a baby’s shirt.

A dolls head guillotined, gazes on with one unblinded eye,
As Mother, Brother and Sister emerge, from the silent waves
Of a river flowing darkly, to the sound of laughter.

The sun pours down on a boy seated on a threshold
from a long time ago, his mother  with a plate of food,
lays her hand on his shoulder

Moths wings burnt in the incandescence of searchlights, blow over shafts of gun metal grey dawn,
as morning sirens drag in the carcass of yet another bloodied dream
from a long time ago.


Ajith C. Herath | 1996 August

In memory of a fellow political prisoner detained at Boossa Detention Camp in 1989. He suffered emotional and psychological trauma after his entire family was massacred by the State armed forces in Mahawatte, a remote village in the central highlands of Sri Lanka. | Image: Self-Portrait as a Prisoner' - Austrian expressionist Egon Schiele (1890-1918)

* A small town located in the central Sri Lanka.
** A well-known massacre site close to Kandy in central Sri Lanka, where at least 54 persons were killed on 14 and 15 September 1989.