Tuesday, 26 November 2013
'some small solace'
On Sunday Robert and I made like Goldilock and went on the hunt for bears. (Ummm ... sorry ... very bad pun ...). We were looking for the graves of Robert's forebears.
And we found the graves. All three plots - his maternal grandparents (who emigrated over here from Scotland) and his paternal grandmother's and great-grandparents' graves.
Looking for names on headstones can be like looking for needles in a haystack; or for grains of grey among grey. Luckily, Robert had a general idea of where the graves were, so it didn't take us too long.
I don't find cemeteries to be morbid places. Especially not when they are spread with carpets of cheerful marigolds.
To visit the grave of someone affords focus - a designated place to stand awhile and remember someone's importance; to remember their life.
Ever since death touched my family when I was a teenager, I've known personally how it can blow cold into your life with its power to, it seems almost indiscrminately, snatch a loved person from your side, leaving you bereft.
The poem that I have selected for this post, is about grief. Part of what the poem does, is to use the ordinary and the often un-noticed smallness of everyday things, as a way to highlight the crushing inevitability of both time and death. 'Time does not discriminate, but in the end will always turn wood to stone'.
I watch as the mountains
become bearded with shadows
and a wind on all fours
scatters the lake before it.
After death there is some small solace,
of comfort found in a pinch of memory.
Like the memory I hold of you,
your amused eyes
under a brow I thought was permanent.
In the grain of this wooden table,
a tree's shadowed veins
reminds me that time does not
but in the end will always turn
wood to stone.
Through rain the falling scales
of a grey warbler's song
forms its familiar, mournful weave
of monotony and grief. Yet listen again
and it is the song of a bird
no bigger than an egg cup.
Kay McKenzie Cooke
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