Sunday, 4 August 2013

When the Wind Blows OR Listening Out for a Love Song

Only fools take little or no care to create and store happy memories as they go through life or on wintry days, when a north wind blows, they will have little or nothing by which to warm themselves, take hope, and feel inspired.

Be sure, second hand memories won’t do the trick.

I have said much the same thing before and a reader got in touch to say that his partner has Alzheimer’s so what use are their happy memories?

Well, I believe that a person does not have to articulate on happy memories to enjoy them; the spirit of that happiness never dies and will sustain us through just about anything. In my experience, where that spirit is weak or absent, the human heart tells a very different story. 

I have known people with and written poems about Alzheimer’s; it is a very sad condition, but even as it progresses many of those who have it seem able to convey and live (for much if not all the time) by the spirit of a happy past even though they cannot recall it in much or any detail. Perhaps this is wishful thinking of my part, but an overwhelming impression all the same.

A devoted carer once said much the same thing to me so it isn’t just a poet’s rhetoric. ‘It keeps me sane,” he told me, “knowing that the spirit of the love we have shared for the best part of a lifetime is still there, intact. True, its human container is outwardly more than a shade battered, bruised and all but beyond recognition, but its contents will remain as fresh, pure and precious as ever for as long as at least one of us continues to draw breath. After that…who knows?”

Who, indeed?


A north wind, penetrating within,
purging the soul, tearing skin
from a body staring ruin in the face,
and no way back to the way
things were but a leaf or flower away;
driven to choose this track
or else no chance of winning;
hope fading, risk losing just about

Blows the wind cruelly, tears freezing
faces turned heavenwards
seeking aid, mercy, grace, forgiveness
for the error of our ways,
judgments cast in stone to boost egos
begging superiority over erstwhile
minorities, teeth showing
like the smile on a hungry tiger
selecting priorities

We persevere. Though fear do its worst,
we shall endure, see the sun shine
in our faces again, belie the damage
of acid rain, camouflage our pain
under a slick, blank sheets of copy paper
signifying nothing, signing us up
for whatever the world cares
to have us say we feel, no matter
what’s just or real

Listen. Above sounds like wolves howling
and cash druggies prowling, a love song…

Copyright R. N. Taber 2005; 2013

[Note: A slightly different version of this poem appears in 1st eds.of A Feeling For The Quickness Of Time by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2005; 2nd (revised) e-edition in preparation.]

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