Sunday, 11 May 2014

Deep River OR Fishing for the Twinkle in Time's Eye

A friend who, like me, lives on his own, commented that he would so love to find someone special with whom to share his life, but simply didn’t have the time, what with work and seeing to the shopping, laundry, keeping the house clean and everything else that needed to be done. Fair enough, but how often do we wonder how other people manage to find the time for leisure activities and generally enjoying life? If the answer is often, then we need to make time too or risk life dumping us in some metaphorical river carrying us along with the rest of its human waste…  

We are often told that the cut and thrust of modern life is all about prioritizing. (How managers and supervisors, not to mention politicians love that word!). Well, making time to get a life needs to be a priority, too, surely? Oh, of course things (relationships?) don’t always work out as we'd hoped (in my case, more often than not) but there is so much in life to miss out on; we need to pause for thought, and then make time to GO FOR IT. True, we all have our limitations, but as a teacher at my old school once pointed out, limitations are a challenge not an excuse.

My dear late mother once told me, ‘Always make time to reflect on life because it’s food for thought that makes the feast all the more enjoyable.’ Wise words, indeed!


A man by a river is always there,
often fishing, now and then sketching
or gazing into the air as if watching
birds in flight only, invariably,
there are none in sight as light on a face
all grizzled and worn (at first sight)
seems to shed all trace of care,
take on a saintly profile, a beauty rare,
sublime, less in thrall to time
and place than the river passing us by,
emanating centuries of loving, dreaming,
despairing of ever finding whatever
we dare not cease seeking if half scared
of naming, growing weary of hoping,
trying to express in the ways we look, talk,
pressing on regardless, feeling alone
even in crowds, begrudging time to pause
for breath (forget positive thinking)
half expecting to find Someone ‘out there’
(but where, and if we do, what then?) 

‘A strange man,’ people mutter and move on,
few pausing to ask why he’s always there,
by a river, often fishing, sometimes laughing
or just gazing into thin air (at what, ghosts?)
deflecting a general incapacity of native curiosity
to translate into… an oral perspicacity leading
to whatever, but something (surely?)
that has to be better than this mere moving on
like a river...

Copyright R. N. Taber 2005; 2014

[Note : An earlier 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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