THE NEW KING
One night when you are sleeping, the king will cut through your fields and cut through your forests, he will cut through your bed, and cut through your skin and through your bones and replace your heart with an empty hand. He’ll tie your heart in string as if in an old-fashioned bakery and then he will duck his crowned head under the moon and be gone. Open and closed, open and closed, my empty hand opens and closes throughout the night. It climbs the ladder of my ribs and escapes my mouth. It thinks it is a dove and flies away. In through the window of the palace my empty hand flutters. Across the throneroom my empty hand flaps and around the throat of the king. Open and closed, open and closed around the throat of the king, my hand is no longer empty and somewhere in a distant room, they wake the prince, my brother and cover him with leaves.
I watched the coronation of King Charles yesterday with my parents. My father remembers watching Queen Elizabeth's coronation as a child in South Africa. What if we crowned a leaf? Made trees our king? Or better, leaves as our elected representative, a river as the head of state. What if winter made legislation, or springtime was the judiciary? Let's make butterflies our police force, an army out of photosynthesis. Not a parliament of fowls, but birds, snakes and mules. What can we learn from a donkey or an eel? Let's make our flag out of mud or else sky, our coat of arms out of ocean. A shield can have tides. A flag can have worms moving through. Let's make the borders of our country out of air, because air is our money and we exchange it only through breath.