Mulengi Sinija

by Penny Blake about a year ago in sad poetry

(Table for the Dead)

Mulengi Sinija

Tonight is the Firebird festival, every spider’s chance to shine and dance and burn up the night. The sun, once soft milk light, has already slipped away...

Mulengi Sinija (Table for the Dead)

I sit across from grandmother in the little room, tinted pink, and the scent of the tea is Turkish Delight rising from the Dresden.

Outside our door The City Of Spiders is waking and dark jet dancers are chittering and chattering and waiting for the night. So, so bright, Grandmother’s firebird feathers in the soft milk light.

Fold away, softly now, the bright silks of play and hand into her crumpled paper palm the strings of threaded blood and tears in strands of turquoise and carnelian.

There is a weight, more than the fabric, of that long black skirt and the high necked lace shirt she heaves up over her fire form. Here are the white-beaked masques now with their golden glitter and their gaudy plumes, here are the capes of scarlet velveteen, the sun is sinking with a sigh to the guillotine.

One more cup before we have to go? We drink it slow. Drink deep the thousand stories calligraphed in dark amber there against the white. And when it is all gone, step out into the night.

The dark is set alight with a thousand torches, a thousand capes and masques of a thousand spider dancers decked in their firebird fakery. They clitter and chitter and fill the sky with gunpowder stars and their flailing limbs, draped in carnelian carnival array, spin like Catherine wheels through the cobbled streets, dragging us along, nothing marvelous now, just a part of the giddy throng but burning, burning with our real fire held tight inside.

I sit across from grandmother in the little room, tinted pink, and the scent of the tea is Turkish Delight rising from the Dresden.

I sit across from my mother in the little room, tinted red, and the scent of the tea is strawberry , rising from the Dresden.

Outside our door the city of spiders is waking and dark jet dancers are chittering and chattering and waiting for the night. So, so bright, Mother’s tears falling in the soft milk light.

Fold away, softly now, the feathers of your play and hand into her henna darkened palm the strings of threaded blood and tears in strands of turquoise and carnelian.

There is a weight, more than the fabric, of that tight skirt and the low cut shirt she heaves to sculpt her form. Here are the white-beaked masques now with their golden glitter and their gaudy plumes, here are the capes of scarlet velveteen, the sun is sinking with a sigh to the guillotine.

One more cup before we have to go? We drink it slow. Ignore the thousand stories calligraphed in dark amber there against the white. And when it is all gone, step out into the night.

The dark is set alight with a thousand torches, a thousand capes and masques of a thousand spider dancers decked in their firebird fakery. We clitter and chitter and fill the sky with gunpowder stars and their flailing limbs, draped in carnelian carnival array, spin like Catherine wheels through the cobbled streets.

In practiced steps we dance along, merging with the throng but burning, burning with our real embers held tight inside.

I sit across from my mother in the little room, tinted red, and the scent of the tea is strawberry, rising from the Dresden.

I sit across from my daughter in the little room and the scent of the bitter black tea is rising from the Dresden.

All around, the household is waking and brothers and sisters, aunts and cousins are chittering and chattering and waiting for the night. So, so bright, my daughter’s eight dark limbs in the spilt red light.

Fold away, softly now, the threads and baubles of your play and hand into my dark palm the strings of chipped and dusty beads, turquoise and carnelian.

Here are the white-beaked masques now with their golden glitter and their gaudy plumes, here are the capes of scarlet velveteen, the sun is long gone.

One more cup? One last sip? She bolts it down quick, eager to be away, unaware the thousand stories calligraphed in dark amber there against the white. Eager to step out into the night.

We set that dark alight with our thousand torches, a thousand capes and masques, a thousand spider dancers but tonight, tonight we are the firebirds dancing bright. We clitter and chitter and fill the sky with gunpowder stars and our flailing limbs, draped in carnelian carnival array, spin like Catherine wheels through the cobbled streets.

In practiced steps we dance along, laughing with the throng but something pricking tiny hot sparks of pain inside.

I sit across from my daughter in the little room and the scent of the bitter black tea is rising from the Dresden.

I sit across from my granddaughter in the little room and I try to show her the things I’ve seen, there in the steam, rising softly from the Dresden.

But she is busy, busy with her play. Tonight is the Firebird festival, every spider’s chance to shine and dance and burn up the night. The sun, once soft milk light, has already slipped away.

sad poetry
Penny Blake
Penny Blake
Read next: I'm Tired...
Penny Blake

Story topics: Natural Living, Equality, Diversity, Geek Culture.

 I write and review non-fiction and fiction that explores science,

 culture, identity and power.

See all posts by Penny Blake