Thursday, 31 May 2012

My Time

 Photo: The Burns Archive

Last night I walked through the park while the last tinges of pink seeped from the sky, and I thought of this poem:

Take One

Tonight I walked on the wood-smelling verandah;
in the treetops the starlings were slowing
their shrillness to an inconsequential whisper,

the geraniums giving out their sweet herbal smell
even after sundown in the late summer air;
boatmen were beetling over the bay, centipedes

out on some energetic inscrutable mission – and
I thought, this is my time. I don’t have it
for long, and the way here was never easy;

sorrow sat often like a beggar under a bridge
darkening its passages and corners, and some days
it moves so fast, this time of mine, I can’t catch it;

but whatever it does, while I’m here nobody else
can have it. They wouldn’t feel its kick,
nor understand the gleam in it eyes – and I do.

I love this poem, and strolling in the twilight for the first time in ages not only brought it to mind, but also reminded me of a person I used to be. A person who felt time's kick, understood its gleam.

This year, that person's been a distant memory.

I go to work (which doubles as my social life), and then come home and hide. Some days I distract myself with folderol, some days I don't bother. People I should phone, I don't phone. People I should email, I don't email. I can see the world from here, but have no inclination to join it. It seems pointless to try. I don't want company: I don't have anything to say.

The strangeness I've been feeling is down to, I think, being suddenly thrust into the role of orphan. It was bad when my mum died, but not like this. Then, the kick and the gleam increased tenfold. Life was too short. Now, all is dread or blank-faced monotony.

I didn't much like my dad but I'm sure as hell feeling his absence - at least he was there.

 * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I've asked around - "when you lost your last living parent, did you feel all weird and orphany too?"

The answer is always yes.

"After Mum died I did literally feel like I wasn't walking on the planet anymore."

"She didn’t realise quite how alone and bereft she’d feel, even in her late fifties as she was."

"I know what you mean about the orphan feeling - I must admit I do feel like that sometimes."

"I felt totally anchorless all of a sudden. Adrift."

Why does nobody talk about this stuff? This unsettling displacement when there is nobody behind you anymore, when the usual safety nets are gone?

 * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I'm on my own now. Everything I do from here is down to me.

This is my time.

Some days, that simple fact is overwhelming.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Brief Encounter

There I was, at my secret spot down by the river...

...when suddenly it wasn't a secret spot anymore.

He waited patiently for me to throw his stick, resisting all overtures of friendship.

What with the undergrowth to either side and the raging torrent ahead, there was only one way to throw it - back up the steep bank.

He raced after it, and kept going.

Then it was my secret spot again.

 Bye dog, it was a pleasure to share your strange intensity for those brief moments.