Monday, 13 April 2015

A Sense of Sepia OR Ghosts, a Summing Up

I was born in Gillingham (Kent) UK. Although I rarely return to Gillingham, it is never far away from my thoughts, especially as I grow old(er) and find myself looking back on my childhood with a mixture of fondness and regret. 

Whatever, I still experience a thrill whenever I travel on the railway line that crosses the river Medway and gives me a glimpse of Rochester castle and cathedral before passing through Chatham and alongside what used to be my old secondary school before arriving at Gillingham station. 

The last time I stood outside my old home in Priestfield Road (also home to Gillingham Football Club) so many shouting, laughing, happy (and unhappy) ghosts came to play hide-and-seek with me that it was like being transported back in time…

Oh, the wonder (and pitfalls) of childhood! How well I wonder, for any of us, do they measure up against the wonders and pitfalls of adult life?  Whatever, it occurred to me as I stood there, confronting my past, that I am but as I am, and all that I am (or will ever be) is the sum of my ghosts. Is it the same for everyone, I wonder…?


Confronting the house
where I was born,
so much older now, sadder
(world weary like me);
a poor copy of memory’s
bright front door,
opening up shadowy corners
of the mind

Quite alone in the road
I used to play,
all but empty now, quieter
(time-trodden, like me);
a poor copy of hide-and-seek
and go-karts sure
to bring life to laughter lines
on the brow

Football stadium, home
to comic strip heroes,
looks different now, better
preserved than me
where once shabby red fencing
would sneak me in
to get up a sweat for sandmen
in muddy shorts

Here it was, I would dream
about growing up,
doing things, going places,
being someone else;
a livelier, kinder, inspiration
to mind, body and spirit
than this poor copy preserved
in shades of sepia

Ah, but less of this standing
on time’s misty shore,
letting its fast, outgoing tide
get the better of me…
Rather, I shall bid my ghosts
a fond farewell,
let the Here and Now count
and colour me in

Copyright R. N. Taber

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