Sunday, 27 January 2013

Triumph of the Spirit

An earlier version of today’s poem first appeared in an anthology, All through My Life, Poetry Today (Forward Press) 2000, and subsequently in my collection.

At the turn of the century, I was having a bad time. One major symptom of my depression was that I had become very self-conscious of my appearance, not least because society seemed obsessed with appearances.

By the time I had finished the poem, I felt considerably more positive about myself and life in general as well as far less about whether or not I looked the part for the kind of world in which I lived.

Time has moved on, carrying me along with it on a tide of growing if sometimes misplaced optimism. Sadly, though (as a general rule to which, thank goodness, there are many exceptions) many people worldwide continues to be obsessed with outward appearances whatever their socio-cultural-religious background.

Creative writing (indeed, any creative activity) is a wonderful therapy for the human spirit, especially when it all but spent, its batteries badly in need of recharging.


Had a visitor yesterday,
hair thin and grey, face lined
with age as if time
had turned a page too many,
drawn almost to a close
by nicotine fingers, cigarette
and wine stains on clothes;
a half-smile, cracked and dry
splitting papyrus skin,
mouldy lips sucking in dust
on a shelf near starved
of good company, deserving
far, far, better than this travesty
of humanity

Could it be that time
has committed this obscenity
or maggots in the soul?
Whatever, it won’t do at all,
I argued straight,
no punches pulled as outrage
lit a fire in me for this sad,
burnt-out page of human history;
if time and tide waste
no ceremony on us…so what?
Are we but slaves
to probability, bound to be all
we’re not, living among strangers
our tragedy?

No! Forget reflections in a mirror,
it’s the inner self will endure…

Copyright R, N. Taber 2001; 2013

[An earlier version of this poem appears in Love and Human Remains by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2001; 2nd (revised) e-edition in preparation.]

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