Mildew on the slides of the mind
blurs – as lichen on the Alamein graves
at Te Ara roa – the memory of the generator
that thumped away our honeymoon evenings.
Ghosts of my callow youth
escort me now, one case only,
up the hotel stairs,
but when they mock me in the midnight surf
that bangs and bangs at the cleared beach,
I smile: I think more often now I smile
and stare them out.
I must take some new pictures to show you;
we’ll compare them with the old –
there’s much less tangle, mess and clutter now.
The present isn’t envious
of anything except the years
except the years.
I wrote this poem shortly after I became an inspector of secondary schools and revisted Te Araroa in that capacity. As I’ve been blogging about poems and cameras I decided to put it up for it is the only time I’ve written about taking photographs. I was surprised and delighted when it was selected to go into a coffee table book callled Shards of Silver containing poems and pictorial images.
A poet friend said it was a good poem except for the last three lines. He said they don’t arise from the previous material. He’s probably right but it’s what I wrote at the time. Typing it out yesterday brought back lots of memories. Indeed, when I finished that task I flipped contently through my first collection of poems Against the Maelstrom published by Caxton. The poems there are like a photograph album of my forties years.
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