Tuesday, November 27, 2012

For Margaret

               Four months later

Unexpected visitors:
Margaret's daughter and grand-daughter.
Her benign presence hovered in the room;
I kept listening out for her throaty chuckle.
Her mind was elastic and stretched
other minds to find new possibilities
of life and living. 

When the family left Marg's essence 
remained as if she was reaching out
to encourage me to explore and dig deeper.

That was always her gift.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


The future looms insidiously. 
Although it is only fiction, 
it insists on its rightful place.
Unanswerable questions:
How long will I have to live 
within this illness?
Will I be diminished by it?
Hover above me and wait.
One genuine anxiety
draws them like a magnet
to engulf me.
I am drowning in an illusion.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Thinking aloud

Here's the problem: how to convert sameness
into wonder without making it harder
to give myself permission to let go?
The morning light on the dark blue irises,
a walnut tree filled with a blackbird's song
make me unwilling to embrace death.

Maybe I should turn myself around 
and make every moment 
an epiphany, even moments 
of excruciating pain
or sinks full of dirty dishes,
not just morning light and the walnut tree.
But death as an epiphany
is a contradiction in terms:
we move from light, love, hope, energy
into nothing, nowhere with no 'I'  
to recognise anything 
or recognise that there isn't anything.
Let's pray for the tiniest glimmer
of chiara oscura to mark the transition.

An eternity without beauty, 
no wonder we call it death.
It has been said: “Life without music 
would be a mistake”; I'll change that:
Death without beauty would be a mistake.

If I have lived other lives,
I have no memories;
cannot so much as recall 
a sunrise or a baby laughing. 
Where has all that beauty gone?

After our very last life
are we presented with
a tessellation of memories,
no character list, no context?
And have we become so refined,
we're not even interested?
Not for me, thank you; I'd rather remain
unregenerate, human, flawed, 
open to beauty wherever it comes:
a friend's smile, light on the walnut tree.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


I've looked back and found I've cheated;
my memory lapsed and I allowed
a cluster of lines to be used twice. 
Now, that's not on; needs examination
as if it were a repeated dream. 

A patina of time”: that sounds O.K.,
white hair, wrinkles and, as well,
I display scars from fighting life's battles.

The enduring years”: now, that's wrong;
it is not the years that endure
but roll on one after another, 
the way years do. I'm the one
who's had to endure life's vicissitudes.

The mind's bright mirror”: who wouldn't 
choose illumination? 

As an image for life, fair enough,
despite the implicit teleology. 
Not aimless, not arbitrary, 
but promising meaning at journey's end.
I can see why I used it twice.
Hope, not strong enough for faith, 
but, for all that, worthy of love.