Monday, November 2, 2009

While You Are Away

I was delighted to see Anne come through the door late yesterday afternoon. It’s not that Jo who temporarily house-sat over the weekend didn’t do a good job of looking after me. Indeed, she got out the DVD Doubt starring Meryl Streep for us to watch on Saturday night and we spent an interesting hour in the garden yesterday discussing issues of faith, doubt, sin and guilt.

I wrote this poem nine years ago – the same emotion then.


While you are away
there is a strong storm
broken boughs, smashed
pots, snapped tulips, sparrows
struggling frantically against the blast

While you are away
dishes take longer to be done
for dinner, pickled pork, which
you don't like, but despite the cats'
attempt at consolation the place seems empty

While you are away
the Middle East teeters into
war, Serbia gains a new president
the dollar slumps, & a Minister
dumps dawn raids on her officials

While you are away
R. S. Thomas dies, " a simple man"
inhabiting "pain's landscape". "Endlessly
the days go on with their business". A poet's
passing provides an alibi for fears & restlessness

Yes –everything’s different and nothing has changed. If it is selfish to say I miss her when she is away then at least it is honest.

I can no longer drive out to buy pickled pork. We had two cats then. The Middle East still hovers on the brink of conflict. The dollar has risen and fallen. I can date the poem because I know R.S.Thomas died in 2000.

An Anglican parson, an ardent Welsh Nationalist, Thomas's poetry with its spare lines has always appealed. One line that I wish I personally had followed more was from “Lore”. ‘Live large man/ and dream small.”

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