Thursday, 11 February 2010

Two more poems from the 'My Fathers' set in Reel


My father, crawling across the floor

He crawls across the floor. His dangling tie
Distracts the child. He hauls the child in the air
And swings it round, once, twice. He holds it high

Above his head. In the forest, a bear
Lurches towards the cabin. Almost night.
Goldilocks sits in the deepest chair

By the table working up an appetite.
Time starts up, judders and stops again
Its flooded engine refusing to ignite.

We’re conked out here, stuck in the slow lane
Of history, where my father comes home late
From work as always and will not complain.

Seventy-two hours he labours for the state
Weekdays, Saturdays, doing what, why, how,
We do not ask him, but accept his fate.

Time is forever in an endless Now
Except in dreams, anxieties, and school,
Though time ticks over far behind his brow

According to a superimposed rule
We touch when we touch him. We hear him roar
In distant forests where his masters drool

And lumber playfully across the floor.

My father carries me across a field

My father carries me across a field.
It’s night and there are trenches filled with snow.
Thick mud. We’re careful to remain concealed

From something frightening I don’t yet know.
And then I walk and there is space between
The four of us. We go where we have to go.

Did I dream it all, this ghostly scene,
The hundred-acre wood where the owl blinked
And the ass spoke? Where I am cosy and clean

In bed, but we are floating, our arms linked
Over the landscape? My father moves ahead
Of me, like some strange, almost extinct

Species, and I follow him in dread
Across the field towards my own extinction.
Spirits everywhere are drifting over blasted

Terrain. The winter cold makes no distinction
Between them and us. My father looks round
And smiles then turns away. We have no function

In this place but keep moving, without sound,
Lost figures who leave only a blank page
Behind them, and the dark and frozen ground

They pass across as they might cross a stage.


Before setting off for London. Just one poem for the funeral itself - the one from the same set that I'll put up tomorrow. C will read it, not me.


danny.marsh said...

What does one say? My thoughts are with you. Your updates have provided a wonderful tribute.

Anonymous said...

Please do not misunderstand me, I only maent that I felt like thinking about your loss in silence out of respect and deep feeling and compassion, as it is only proper in my country. Of course communication in writing-especially under those circumstances- is a relief and a feeling of belonging among people who understands you. I also believe in communication, just "Only connect". Please, do not take me wrong. Eleni

George S said...

Thank you, Danny. Much valued.

And please don't think I took any offence, Eleni. I don't write much about my feelings here - I just write what happens and do what I think is the minimum at my disposal. I write such bits of his life as I have - though only parts of them here because I have a great deal.

I don't do it because I think my father was 'special' in the sense that he was a better or nobler or more noteworthy individual than other human beings (nor am I, for that matter), nor do I do it to 'make a fuss'.

I know you don't think that, but I do consider such aspects of these posts. The decisive factor is that I do have knowledge of him and I do carry with me parts of his life, so I ply my trade: I write because it seems to me worthwhile to write.

The Plump said...

My father died when I was four. His death nearly extinguished my mother's life but she recovered her verve, more frantic and a little less joyful. She lived until she was 93.

I carry a memento with me everywhere. Four memories. One of him coming home from work with sweets, another playing football in the garden lobbing the ball over my head, the third, the last time I saw him. Me, clinging to the black painted wooden gate curiously embellished with small wooden bars, pushing against the rusted spring. He, waving at the top of the road by the red pillar box before disappearing round the corner to the 227 bus stop and the routine operation that killed him. And the fourth, sitting with my mother in the kitchen asking what the word 'dead' meant.

These memories live with me daily. They are part of me just as I was part of him.

For those that went through troubled times, we, the children were their compensation and their hope.

And you rewarded that hope with poetry. You honoured his life through art. Your mementos. More than just plying your trade. More than worthwhile.

George S said...

...clinging to the black painted wooden gate curiously embellished with small wooden bars, pushing against the rusted spring...

That's precisely it, Peter. Those moments in a life that is fleeting for us all. But we register them because we are capable of registering them - and they matter deeply. Poems try to join these things to each other and hope to find meaning in them, or at least a shape.

In this way we are joined as human beings - all special, all nothing, but all we really know, guess, sense and make.

Poet in Residence said...

I was pleased to see My Father Carries Me Accross A Field on here.
It is a most memorable poem.