Monday, 30 May 2016

Awake, Asleep, an Everyman's Compendium of Mind Games

As I grow old, I am reminded how true it is what they say about recalling times past more graphically than the day before. Some of my memories are peopled with family, old friends, lovers and colleagues, even those I only ever knew as friendly faces with whom to pass a pleasant evening at a local bar after a long day of getting nowhere fast.

I do not summon these ghosts, rather vice versa, as if to heap me with regret and/or unanswerable questions as to why we no longer see each other. Did we simply drift apart or was there never any question of our staying in touch anyway? In the latter case, why should I recall them at all? What is it about certain people that they leave such a lasting impression on us? I suspect it tells us less about them than about ourselves if we care to probe further which is perhaps why we rarely do…in case we don’t like some of the answers we may come up with?

A prevailing image of memory I have is of two cruise liners; one, carrying us along with those who have truly meant something to us in life (for good or ill) and another carrying those we recall for reasons we cannot or prefer not to articulate. So they - and we - journey across time and space, passing each other from time to time like ships in the night, each with its ‘live’ cargo of assorted shadows.


As I walked into a crowded room,
everyone stopped talking,
stared at me as if I were a stranger
and had no right to be there,
an uninvited guest, gate crasher, someone
sure to disturb their peace

I approached someone I once knew
to kick-start a conversation,
cue for everyone to start blowing
pretty bubbles of words
that hit the ceiling, burst, spilling questions
on each and every one of us

‘Tell me, how are things in your world
since last we got together?
Why must Time so hoard its past
as if it were a collector gathering evidence
to prove some point or other,
as if world history isn’t always reminding
of our hits and misses, successes
and failures, well-intentioned interference
in other people’s affairs as likely
to end in tears as assumptions all well laid
plans of mice and men will see
the cold light of day as tall tales written
into custom furniture and fittings?’

Silences tickling my ears, like no-answers
to a single question dripping me
like raindrops, leaving puddles in my wake
as I negotiate paths opening up
to let me pass, courtesy of people I’d loved,
let slip away or simply forgotten

No welcome hugs, kisses on each cheek,
only looks probing my thoughts
from bubble faces soaking me in memories,
half memories, pretend memories
for all I know, pulling at lesser heartstrings,
sleepwalking me into other selves

Copyright R. N. Taber 2016

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