Saturday, 17 August 2013

No Pretty Rainbow (quite) Makes Up for Heavy Rain

Gay or straight, human nature is much the same world-wide. I dare say a good many of you can count at least one or two fair weather friends of your own. Maybe they might even recognize themselves in what I have to say on the subject although I doubt it.

Now, my mother rarely had a bad word to say about anyone and would put herself out for just about everyone. But I recall how she once referred to one of her closest friends as a vampire. I was curious. She told me that some people are only after what they can get out of a friendship, and when they have taken their fill they will waste no time looking elsewhere. So why bother with them, I wanted to know? My mother shrugged. ‘When people need you, what choice do you have but to be there for them?’

True enough, when we moved and it meant making an effort to stay in touch, the friend soon dumped my mother for someone who was more convenient, and we never saw her again. I was angry on my mother’s behalf, but she took it in her stride. ‘Yes, some people can be very hurtful,’ she explained to boy Roger, but they can’t help it. For them, it comes with being human just as some of us were born to be hurt.’ She said this without a trace of bitterness although she was clearly upset.

I, too, have suffered my share of vampires. Not any more. There comes a time when you have to escape their clutches or go on letting them hurt you. They are not horrible people, just thoughtless and self-centred. Neither are uncommon traits, but only human albeit aspects of human nature we much prefer to gloss over. 

Well, I don’t have my mother’s spirit of endurance, especially while I have to deal with side effects of treatment for my prostate cancer. For now at least, yours truly is putting himself first and if anyone has a problem with that, it’s their problem, not mine. Now, is that selfish or is that, too, just being human?

This poem is a kenning.


I come as a friend,
yet in time you will realize
I feed on
the milk of human kindness
and will drain it dry
any chance I get, even where
it leaves a trail
of hurt and pain I’ll never
turn to see

I speak as a friend,
yet in time you will realize
all I say
turns on all I am, and you
count for little
alongside my needy ego;
even though
I mean no harm, I will
wear you down

I know all the excuses
that spring to mind whenever
challenged to give
thought where thought is due,
but I have little for you
for where would that leave me
but unhappiness,
one straw less to help
keep me afloat

I am that fair weather friend
sure to fail you in the end

[From Tracking the Torchbearer by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2012.]

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