Too close for comfort

There is no right time.
Definitely no good time.

Whenever it comes
We will look back with regret

Wish we had done things differently
And moreover, never had to.

But the moment has always been there –
Buried in the small print

Of the pact we entered into
All those years ago

Never once imagining
We’d ever have to live it.

Having had a heart murmur for a number of years, our beloved whippet is now in congestive heart failure. No longer a case of if but when we will need to make A Decision, and probably sooner rather than later. I know there are many bigger, and far worse things happening in the world now: it’s still hard. Dogs are wonderful, but they do put you through it sometimes.

Misdirection

We do not write poems about dogs –
Not, at least, if we want to be taken
In any way seriously.

Dogs are not sensible, grown-up subjects
For sensible, grown-up writers.
They are not issues or arguments

But the stuff of rhymes we write at school
Like sunsets, springtime and the sea
The root of all doggerel.

No. Instead, we stick to abstractions
Write loftily of love, fidelity, domestic intimacy,
Age, infirmity, and the bitter, plunging agony of leaving

While carefully kidding ourselves
That we’re not really writing
About dogs at all.

Generation gaps

My father believed
Like his father before him
Hard work was its own reward:
Nothing worth doing came easy;
Nine counted less than the one you lost
And the clear, bright notes of your own trumpet
Were a form of noise pollution.

Of all the fears that flourished in that dusty soil
The deepest stares back from the mirror still;
But with your native music, romantic whimsy
And cheerful shrug at all tomorrows
You break the power of my ancient dread
And step into the world with easy, springing stride
Leaving behind the tattered banners
Of my own quiet rebellion.

For my daughter, who is all my greatest hopes and fondest dreams made real. I couldn’t be more proud of her. N.

Big step

I have boots to go walking
In rain, mud and snow;
I have black shiny numbers
To wear should I go
To a wedding or funeral
Or a big interview:
But I’ve nothing, my love,
To go dancing with you.

I have trainers for training
Bike shoes for the bike;
Flip-flops for a holiday
More boots for a hike;
All occasions are covered
Save for one, sad but true:
I have nothing to pull on
And go dancing with you.

How did I let this happen
What was my big mistake?
When did I get distracted
Which wrong path did I take?
It’s a damn poor reflection
When I can’t even choose
To take my true love dancing
Just because I’ve no shoes.

It’s a bad situation
I won’t take any more:
Going to find me some footwear
And step out on that floor.
There’s so much in this life
That leaves me feeling blue:
But tonight I’ll be happy
When I’m dancing with you.

Nid vide

And with that
She’s gone
Again.

The bedroom door is closed
(As usual)
But now just to contain
The silence
That lies upon the place long after
The last trace of perfume fades.

I strain
To hear her desk-chair creak
Her cell-phone buzz
A sudden burst of song
As though a window cracked in heaven.
Knowing doesn’t stop me wishing.

Not that I
Would have it any other way:
She’s in her moment
A new star in ascendency;
The leaves fall, the swifts fly south
And so the great wheel turns.

And with that
I’m back
Again.

 
 

Our daughter has returned to university today after her long weekend at home. The house suddenly seems very quiet, and we miss her terribly, but she’s in absolutely the right place, doing absolutely the right thing, which makes letting her go a lot easier. All is well. (She’s studying French, hence the title!) N.

Home run

There is
(Probably)
A perfect poem
For precisely this moment:
One that captures in a few short lines
The exact feeling
Of sitting up in bed
As night draws in
When long hours of rain have ceased
The fire has burned low
The ale-mug is empty
And a newly-returned beloved child
Sleeps softly in the next-door room.
What a poem
That would be;
And how blessed the man
Who gets to write it.

 
 

This weekend, we’ve been treated to a visit from our daughter, who’s halfway through her first term at university. The iPhone and FaceTime mean she’s much less ‘gone’ than we were when we made the same leap 30 years ago, but they’re no substitute for the real girl. How utterly wonderful she is. N.

We need to go

I repeat. No time to linger:

The village bakery
Shuts at noon

And we have nothing
To eat with Brie and cherry jam.

You know we do
You insist:

But your silver earrings
Are still here on the table

A socket has your cellphone
Tethered like a goat

Your handbag slumps against a cupboard
Deep in slumber, mouth wide open

And you’ll have to ask that chair
If it’s finished with your coat

While all the while your gaze
Rests unbroken on the page.

So I say no more
Breathe out and wait

In silent, humble deference
To a higher power.

Laws of attraction

You.                                      
                                              Me.
City girl
                                              Country boy;
Celtic blue
                                              Germanic brown;
Deft fingers
                                              Ten thumbs;
Maker
                                              Breaker;
Curious
                                              Cautious;
Deciding
                                              Deflecting;
Reaching out
                                              Resisting;
Sharing
                                              Silence.

Which could, I guess, lead some to wonder
What was it we saw in each other
All those years ago.

Ourselves, reflected.

Equals and opposites
North and south poles
That attracted, touched
And still hold fast together.

Shakespearean sonnet: Love and marriage

There’s not much left now. All that stuff, brand-new,
We unwrapped, gasping, twenty years ago
Has faded, been passed on, expired, worn through
Or simply vanished. Little did we know
That toaster would explode, those shining pans
Burn black, the glasses chip, the gleaming knives
Turn dull, plates end up mismatched. Some grand plans
Got mislaid, too, somehow. But what survives
We had no need to list; came with no box
Or owner’s manual, spares or guarantee.
It’s just kept right on working, stood life’s shocks
And daily labours; quietly, constantly.
A gift we gave each other with no strings.
Still ours when we have lost all other things.

 
 

This isn’t my usual line of country, but we’ve been invited to a wedding in May, which got me thinking about wedding gifts, and then our own forthcoming 21st anniversary this summer. Love changes with life and time, but for us, at least, it keeps soldiering on somehow. I guess we’re the lucky ones. N.