At the event held at City Hall on 25 May 2018 marking the end of Miles Chambers’ term of office as Bristol City Poet, Vanessa Kisuule, the new City Poet, performed her first commissioned poem, ‘Orange Man’.
I happened under careful fingers
Armed in the colour of colonial summer walls
And breakfast juice cartons
There is no pilgrimage for those
With no homeland,
We inherit pavements of parched fire
Should I have a tongue, two legs
A whole palette of colours
With which to speak of the civic and anarchic
Perhaps I would not be reduced to this:
A poor translation in a poet’s mouth
She speaks for me, as so many assume
To do for the voiceless. No matter.
Blessed and cursed to observe
The slow seethe of society’s grief
I know and understand this one thing:
Triumph is measured by how long
Wind, time and apathy will be endured
Wedded to the concrete
I live as crude metaphor
Defying the arrogance of language
Can you hear my silence, my stillness?
The haunting impermenance of all
We see, speak and do?
Soon enough, I will be gone, rendered
Into the dust from whence I came
Will you remember the hope in which
I was made – the snag I caused in your
Fabric of a normal, uneventful day
If you close your eyes in the sun’s glare
There’s a furnace behind the refuge
Of your eyelids
Perhaps this is where I was born
Now I’m here on these streets
Just passing through
Your sometimes careless history
Your ever careful fingers
Copyright Vanessa Kissule
Please note that this poem cannot be reproduced without permission.
Photo credit: @JonCraig_Photos