Monday, 4 July 2016

A Feeling for the Quickness of Time

Today’s poem first appeared in the on-line poetry journal Ygdrasil in July 2004 and subsequently in my collection of the same name the following year.

Now, I have never subscribed to the view that children should be seen and not heard; they may not always be right (and are parents?) but are entitled to a point of view that deserves to be addressed and discussed if only so that any serious flaws in it are not left to fester into adulthood.

All parents want to best for their children. It should follow therefore that they need to know what their children are thinking and vice-versa, including if not especially among immigrant families whose socio-cultural-religious background is often very different from that of the country they have chosen to make their home.

Young people often feel no one is listening to them or even wants to hear what they have to say. (Old people understand, better than they know.) They are assured their ‘betters’ know what is best for them, yet those same betters might as well have cloth ears for all the notice they take of anyone not of the same mindset. Is it not high time we all started talking to not at each other and listening to each other more…before it is too late, and time has already put the boot in?

At 70, I sometimes feel as if my life is being fast forwarded before I've even had time to get my bearings, and invariably find myself asking, so what’s new…? All the more reason, though, to live for the Here and Now and not waste time brooding on what-might-have-been and mistakes that cannot be rectified...


Yesterday gone, today nearly done, 
tomorrow soon on the run from shadows
wrestling with frustration like children
sent to bed early, a lesson supposedly
for the learning, but just as likely feed us
half lies (home truths may get a look in);
trying not to feel hard done by or cry,
would rather die than show how it hurts
to be missing TV, denied PC access,
nothing left to do but call people names;
could read a book, I suppose, but who
wants to do that these days…?
Nothing like being made to feel (so) small
for speaking your mind…

Being a kid’s a thankless biz, just wait till
I’m older...

I’ll show ‘em what’s what, high time
they learned what life’s all about
(too short to fuss about being late home)
although (fair enough) should have called
to say so, but, what the heck...? 
Got home okay eventually, didn’t I?
(Parents, who’d have ’em...?)

Ranting and raving at a window, 
watching the sun fade away, listening 
for voices we’re used to hearing say 
'don’t', 'can’t', 'shouldn’t', and 'mustn’t', 
old enough to know better’; shows 
they care, I guess, and an early night’s 
not the end of a child’s small world 
(in any language) even if we're as loath
as the mantel clock to acknowledge 
a fault, tailoring time’s cloth to suit parts 
we play (no carbon copy life will do) 
demanding a say in setting its stage, 
not ‘one day..’ but a resounding ‘Yes!’

Copyright R. N. Taber 2005; 2016

[Note: A slightly different version of this poem appears in 1st eds. of A Feeling for the Quickness of Time by R. N. Taber, 2005; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]

No comments :