Here is the 32nd poem in my 52-poem sequence (one a week) for 2013, followed by some illumination and reflection:
The bleak midwinter sun
rose to find me in the bath
this morning and the floor
turned to glass as the snow began
in slow motion confetti lightness
and I remembered all
the twelve years of our friendship.
Talking to Napoleon on the Ouija board
with mad Diane at midnight
in fogbound Woodlands
stealing your last can of ravioli
on New Year’s Eve
experiments with Speed
falling off step-ladders in your living room
high on life and beer
drunk on melancholy.
Somehow it seems today
your day at this bleak solstice
at the end of a century
we have all survived
into the future and yet
we were best when we were miserable,
and never quite forgave ourselves
or each other
for getting happy.
Well, I’ve never been married, despite me and Rona being together for nearly 20 years, so this title doesn’t refer to me but to the wedding of my old friend Iain Cree to Lynn Young back at the start of the 21st century. The poem tries to capture that sense of an–end-of-an-era, that I think we all get at that stage in life when your old drinking buddies start turning into sensible married types, although to be fair to Iain I’m not sure his worst enemy would call him sensible even now!
It’s an indication of how age changes our perception of time, that I thought “twelve years of friendship” was a lot back then. These days, World War Two feels recent to me, just because I’ve learned how fast entire decades can fly by.
I suppose the real point of this one, and it’s an uplifting thought I think, is how our sorrows can be redeemed by future happiness, and become a welcome part of a bigger picture when looking back. How, indeed, to go further, they may even possess a grandeur and dignity that we should try to relish even whilst we are still in the midst of sorrow. Some people of course live lives which are perhaps never redeemed by future happiness, and this takes us into areas of spirituality. Regardless of your beliefs, I would suggest that the great mothering oblivion of Nature’s future embrace for us, is itself a redeeming happiness, from which dignity and grace can by gleaned for life in the present, if we just pay enough attention to all the beauty around us.
I found myself remembering the lyrics of the late David McComb of Australian band The Triffids the other day, apropos of nothing, funnily enough a band that my aforementioned friend Iain got me into:
There’s a chapel deep in a valley
For travelling strangers in distress
It’s nestled among the ghosts of the pines
Under the shadow of a precipice
When a lonesome climbing figure
Slips and loses grip
Tumbles into a crevice
To his icy mountain crypt
Buy him deep in love, bury him deep in love
Take him in, under your wing
Bury him deep in love
Poor David McComb, he never made it to the 21st century, a tragic victim of alcohol and drug abuse, like so many ‘rock stars’. So as the poem says, be grateful that we all survived, my friends. The McComb lyrics lead me to an illustration for this week’s post: ‘Winter Landscape with a Church’ by Caspar David Friedrich.