Saturday, 2 July 2016

On Discovering the Bitter-Sweet Poetry of Time


As I grow old(er) - I am 70 now - I think less about actually dying than about how about much time I might have left in this life, determined (in my own way) to make the most of and enjoy it.

Incidentally, on the subject of enjoyment, I am always delighted to hear from readers who live in or are visiting London and express an interest in meeting up for a chat, whether over a friendly beer or two, a meal or just coffee. Feel free to email me any time.

Now, writing, especially poetry, may well be my preferred form of creative therapy to keep my old adversary depression at bay (which it does, very effectively) but it has also been a learning curve; hopefully it may be of some interest to someone someday to track that curve from my early to later poems. Whatever their impressions or end verdict, I would hope to get at least some brownie points for having attempted the curve in the first place. This is why, over the next few years, I hope to make revised versions of my poetry collections and novels available as e-books on Google Play to anyone who may be interested; all are on my blogs, but I can’t see them remaining on the Internet indefinitely once Time has disposed of me as and when it will.

Who knows, and what does it really matter anyway? All that really matters is that, each in our own way, we not only enjoy, but also at least try to make some sense of the Here and Now. Otherwise, what chance of our own customised cameos of life’s bigger picture ever finding a place in Time’s endless tapestry of Memory?

ON DISCOVERING THE BITTER-SWEET POETRY OF TIME

It’s a long road that winds
past the cemetery, and sometimes
I’d take a shortcut by graves,
flowers, yew trees, head stones
wiped clean or left to weeds, mosses,
history and memory

Uneasy, all but surrounded
by a lifetime enemy called Death
(so near, yet so far…)
Should I be scared of or resigned
to its inevitability?
Alternatively, how dare I ignore
the whistle pursing my lips,
or a cheeky breeze in sentinel trees
sharing old jokes in the ear?
Shriek of starling’s return to the nest,
magpie come and gone, done
its worst, flower heads following
my every move, smiling at me
as I hurry along, opening my heart
to a sun that means us well,
no reason at all to suspect nightfall
means anything more or less
than a sure, helping hand from nature
to preserve life, keep us as safe
as time permits, and for every petal,
stem and root that wind, rain,
or human hand displace, more on call
to take their place

In no time at all, at iron gates
and passing through, Death behind me
(barely a thought) yet can’t help
but wonder as I turn into my street
why a rose in the gutter should matter
more than ever…

Copyright R. N. Taber 2004; 2016

[Note: This poem has been revised (2016) from an earlier version that appears under the title 'A Matter of Time, in 1st eds. of A Feeling for the Quickness of Time by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2005; revised edition in e-format in preparation.]



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