Spec-Fic Month: 'The Great Wall (2016)' by Nina Powles

The Great Wall (2016) by Nina Powles

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The Great Wall (2016)

When Matt Damon saved China
           by driving his spear into the alien’s mouth

I was distracted by Lin Mei’s long braided hair
           and the way she holds herself so still

ready to strike down her enemies
           with a knife in each fist

but some things are fixed
           in the white saviour narrative

like the exotic love interest who will risk everything
           as ancient cities crumble around her

and when you asked me what I thought
           afterwards in the autumn rain

I wanted to say some parts were beautiful
           like the pagoda of iridescent glass

shattering into pieces of pink and blue light
           just as Lin Mei lets loose her arrow

and also when you whispered something
           in my ear and I was hit by the shockwave

caused by my body and your breath existing
           in the same moment in the same universe

months later you told me you cried during Rogue One   
           the scene where two men hold each other

weeping beneath the palm trees and light beams
           blasting the leaves apart and their hands

shaking moments before a star-destroying weapon
           obliterates their small wrecked portion of universe

I didn’t know what to do with these space opera feelings
           only that I had to exit this particular narrative

in which our knees are just touching
           and we are laughing while the city disappears around us

as if we could reach back through hyperspace
           to touch the silver holograms of our past selves

as if we could go back to some other time
           on some other planet

before the first particles of energy let go of themselves
           like the thousand paper lanterns

released into the sky above the Great Wall
           a thousand tiny fires trapped inside

Poem Note

I am a person easily moved by spectacles of sound and colour, so it makes sense I'm addicted to going to the movies. It's not so much about the movie itself but the shared experience of getting lost. The feeling of sitting there in the dark, hyper aware of the space between you and the person next to you. You start to transpose film narratives onto your everyday life, even ones with aliens and star-destroyers. This poem comes from that dream space, the place I am often trying to write myself out of, but end up losing myself in again.