Saturday, July 09, 2005

Once upon a time, son

Once upon a time, son

Once upon a time, son,
they used to laugh with their hearts
and laugh with their eyes:
but now they only laugh with their teeth,
while their ice-block cold eyes
search behind my shadow.

There was a time indeed
they used to shake hands with their hearts:
but that's gone, son
Now they shake hands without hearts
while their left hands search
my empty pockets.

"Feel at home"!"Come again";
they say, and when I come
again and feel
at home, once, twice,
there will be no thrice-
for then I find the doors shut on me.

So I have learned many things, son.
I have learned to wear many faces
like dresses-homeface,
officeface, streetface, hostface,
cocktailface, with all their comforting smiles
like a fixed potrait smile.

And have learned too
to laugh with only my teeth
and shake hands without my heart
I have also learned to say, "good bye",
When I mean "good-riddance";
to say "glad to meet you",
without being glad; and to say "it's been
nice talking to you",after being bored.

But believe me, son.

I want to be what I used to be
When I was like you. I want
to unlearn ll these muting things.
Most of all, I want to relearn
how to laugh, for my laugh in the mirror
shows only my teeth like a snakes bare fangs!

So show me, son,
how to laugh; show me how
I used to laugh and smile
Once upon a time when I was like you.

written by Gabriel Okara, 1921

This poem is one of my favourite poems as it reflects what we are today. In reality most of us wear masks, and that should not be the way to laugh nd smile. Learn to laugh and smile and take of that mask...