white # flight # shame

The sunlight is doing something to the snow
– yes the obvious but

I mean the warm tone it lends drifts
here in Massachusetts where we’ve moved

into a house that like the world
is not in our possession. The stream, it froze

– my mother’s mouth stays half-open,
with one eye closed, and squares of haze

spoil the image. In England her brown face goes on
moving, talking, unaware

the connection’s gone. She’s trying to respond
to my complaint about the white

person I keep meeting who will charge,
snowblind, into a conversation, crying,

‘of course the more important issue,
concerning all of us, is climate change.’

She is trying – diasporic, stateless – to respond
from a small small house in England.

‘We must stop flying to other countries.’
– But not everyone who flees

– sorry, flies – is a tourist. ‘Well, of course,
I don’t mean you. You’re different.’ My mother’s mouth

half-open, as if to reply. She winks. But when
her face comes back to life, Frank, who

sits drooling in my lap, won’t smile or coo.
That a picture may be her is something he can’t yet know.

Nonplussed he outstares that veering glow
which melts down to nothing, or less than nothing.

Vidyan Ravinthiran

Back to The Phone Book