Thursday, 4 April 2013

Life Companions OR On the Healing Power of Nature

Today’s poem was written in 2011 and was first published in an anthology, Fear Itself Forward Press, 2012.

In the 1980's I spent a couple of years working as a librarian with the local Home Library Service that visits housebound people unable to get to a local library. One of my customers was a lady well into her nineties, all of whose family and friends had died. She was a lovely lady; with soft, silvery hair and the most beautiful skin I have ever seen on an old person; she must have been a real beauty in her younger years.

The group of people with whom I worked visited the same people every three weeks in a mobile library van and we got to know some of them well. I asked this lady once if she was ever lonely. ‘Of course,’ she replied in a hauntingly musical voice. ‘I miss my friends and family, but I have my reading, my music and can look out on my garden and enjoy nature and wildlife. They are always reminding me that life is precious, but nothing lasts forever. I used to worry about dying alone, but not now. The garden will know when my time comes. The flowers and trees, birds, butterflies, and even the grey squirrels will see me through whatever lies in store for me. Earth Mother will remember me when I’m no longer here, even if no one else does....’

At the time, I thought it was a very romantic thing to say, but that’s all. I know better now.

Whatever their colour, creed, sex or sexuality, people of my generation and older (I am 67) who don’t have a partner, for whatever reason, often tell me they get scared sometimes of growing old alone and dying alone. I can relate to that although I rose above such fears some time ago. 

Yes, I have occasional lapses of confidence and start to panic, but only have to look out of my window at the garden below or go for a walk along the canal or on Hampstead Heath to feel reassured. Even city life plays host to nature if not on the same scale as the countryside.

In later years, especially after I turned sixty, I realized it was unlikely I would meet anyone else with whom I’d want to spend the rest of my life.

I confess I grew more and more apprehensive about growing old and being on my own. Yes, I have some good friends, but who’s to say who will outlive whom? For a while, I found little comfort even in my close affinity with nature. Indeed, I became more than a little apprehensive about the future. I got scared, really scared.

Ah, yes, but not now….for human nature has a healing power of its own; it is called positive thinking. besides, whenever I contemplate the inspiring beauty of the natural world, I feel a sense of peace that lifts me above any negative feelings that might try to sneak in, not least regarding my prostate cancer...


There was a fear in me
that became terror as I grew older,
of being left alone,
family and friends long gone,
dying on my own

I could not sleep at night
for the grip on me this terror had,
a living nightmare,
nowhere to go, no one to share
so much as a tear

One sunset, in my garden,
watching fluffy pink clouds drift by,
a nightingale’s song
captured the sheer joy of living,
an eternity of loving

I felt Earth Mother’s arms
take me in a strong, intimate embrace,
a presence reassuring,
sense of rest and peace enduring,
no dark dreaming

I slept easy that night,

Copyright R. N. Taber 2011; 2012

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