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Justice for Freddie Gray - Baltimore - USA

Justice for Freddie Gray – Victim of Police Brutality – Baltimore/USA – April 2015
Source: Common Dreams (Photo courtesy of Ryan Harvey)

As yet another African-American community erupts in the face of police brutality, I offer the poetic wisdom of Brazilian educator and poet, Flora Egídio Thomé (1930-2014). In my Poetry Corner May 2015, I feature six Haiku poems from her collection In the Waters of Time (Nas Águas do Tempo), published in 2002.

The title of her collection alludes to the fluidity of time.

Born in times of water
in the waters of time I am…
drifting alone.

Water gives life to our planet. The oceans cover 71 percent of the Earth’s surface. Even our bodies are composed of water: 60 percent in adult men and 55 percent in adult women. Because of this life-giving water, we exist and experience time.

Born to Lebanese immigrants in Brazil’s Center-West State of Mato Grosso do Sul, Flora Thomé was the only girl among six brothers. She was nine when her father died, leaving her mother to raise them alone.

Mother and daughter
play house
longing for the future.

As the only girl, Flora must have been close to her mother. In playing house together, they share a moment when the past, present, and future become one.

Her forty-six years as an educator began as a primary school teacher until she was able to complete her education, enabling her to move up to the secondary level, and later to the university in her home city where she taught communication and expression of the Portuguese language.

In her first book, Cirrus (Cirros), published in 1960, she demonstrated her preference for the short verse. With the publication of Haikus (Haicais) in 1999, she began exploring the traditional Japanese poetic form—three verses with five-seven-five poetic syllables—which she viewed as best suited for bringing poetry into the fast paced modern life.

To decipher time
of the clock or of dreams.
Mystery of life.

Whether awake or asleep, the fluidity of time differs for each one of us. While the days fly by for some, they seem to crawl by for others. When it involves our memories, the mystery deepens.

Winding paths
memories that go and come
on the floor of memory…

Memory, a factor of time, becomes something material and concrete like the floor upon which we move through life. But, like a winding path, the recollections of our past are as fluid and elastic as time. Memories can be distorted, forgotten, or reshaped.

When Thomé zeros in on human behavior, she aims at the core of our being.

The key imprisons
man. Without it,
he is in harmony with himself.

Our egoism continues to fuel violence and brutality across our planet, preventing us from realizing our potential as human beings.

In the waters of time, you and I exist and cross paths. Our collective memories tell a story of domination, destruction, and death. With shortsighted individualism and belief in our superiority, we excavate the floor we stand on and celebrate victories not yet won.

In the waters of time, Truth will set us free.