Out in the open

I’ve seen a lion throw his head back and roar to ensure maximum amplification
The lionesses mainly concern themselves with the silent skill of hunting, to ensure the survival of all.
But in 1991, a black girl in a white tracksuit
stood in a sports arena
And didn’t pussyfoot around those high notes
that are hard to reach
It was like she was unleashing a torrent of energy,
like a bright fountain of song.
You could see the muscles in her out-thrust neck. There’s so much more power where that came from.

And again, just last week, a young girl with her hair braided in a coronet flecked with gold and a coat
colored like the sun itself
Poured cleansing words into the public space, to purify the contested place
Where small proud boys had created
A shambles: bringing shame down on themselves in front of their own ancestors and their own race.


It’s unmasked, now: what breeds about the heart, the ugly beliefs under the ‘be best’ slogans and the ordinary amities of the fearful disinherited. Those lovely ladies making home made jam; these corporate warriors, now retired; their husbands all deciding who was overrunning the land, and who should not be seen or heard, or take up a position which can legitimately be admired.

Poets discuss the young sun queen, whose words lit a pyre and also carried forward a torch. CNN released a transcript afflicted with errors , so it was difficult to decipher the true meaning from the words themselves.

There was an image of an upward climb, through hardship to a desired summit – and no need for rappelling, because the climb was in the mind and the upbuilding sequences of the words. Serrated, and serried, each part igniting flares to light the way for the next. Each word, briefly unmasked, was robed in its own vivid, solid colour, and gloved in an elegance befitting winter.

The colours were on the inside too; woven in with the content of their character. Such a solace, after so many years of hollow surface.

Burnished women, brazen with ambition,
embodiments of aspiration. But it is the work
done in the quiet of night, alone, sifting
through the not so good thoughts and words

thrown at them as children

that make these public spectacles more than
what meets the eye.

Devika Brendon


Devika Brendon is a writer, teacher, editor and reviewer of English Language and Literature. She is the Consultant Content Editor for the SEALA global network; and Senior Content Editor of the literary journal, New Ceylon Writing, established in 1970, and brought online in 2016. Devika’s short stories and poetry have been widely published in anthologies and journals, including Quadrant magazine, and her reviews have been published in Australia, India and Sri Lanka. Devika is a newspaper columnist in Sri Lanka, and her articles and opinion pieces are published in Ceylon Today, The Sunday Island, The Sunday Times, The Sunday Observer, and LMD Magazine.

© 2021