Here is the 44th poem in my 52-poem sequence (one a week) for 2013, followed by some illumination and reflection:
UNDER THE WHITE
Years ago, just after we met it occurred to me
on seeing your shoes discarded by my door
that to love someone is to love their shoes.
But what of gloves?
Today you told me you had found a leather glove
you had thought lost just outside your office.
It must have fallen there the very night before Christmas
when the snow started and lain there these past five weeks
protected and kept safe hidden under all that snow.
I like to picture it there on each of those dark nights
when you stepped out to your car, walking above it
and over it, missing it, filled with loss.
And it just lying there under the white
waving back up at you, gesturing silently
because gloves can’t speak or cry out for help.
Something superstitious, supremely primitive
remains in each of us despite the thin veneer
of scientific civilisation. Some part of me
after all the sorrow of these recent years
wants to take that little glove’s adventure as a message
a crazy sign from a God I don’t believe in
that this year will be better.
Indeed if I were God I would have lain snow over all this city
over all the world for a month, a year, a hundred years,
just to save your little leather glove like that then silently
magically hand it back to you.
That is the shape of my love. Does it still fit you?
Well, this one’s a bit sugary sweet I suppose, but that was an incredible winter. Trains, buses and cars well all rendered useless for the best part of two weeks, and we had to walk to work instead, something like seven a miles a day, and slept like logs. Actually, it was great fun. And very romantic, walking home skating and sliding down the streets, hand in hand, while looking up at the stars. The amount of idiots who half-wrecked their cars trying to get up the hill near our house, showing a complete failure to understand the concept of traction, then had to abandon them and walk off home. After a while, the world became like a Breughel painting, people walked around instead and actually said hello and laughed and smiled at each other and found themselves engaging in something weird and nearly extinct called “conversation”. Neighbours got to know, and help, each other. The idea of “society”, as killed for us by Margaret Thatcher, came briefly back to life. Other concepts we were shaky on like community and civilisation, re-entered our lives and demanded that we brush-up on them. Then one day the snow melted and we all went back to hiding in our own corners and ignoring each other, competing instead of cooperating, working towards a return to barbarism rather than the society of interconnected craftsmen that our ancestors intended.
Progress isn’t just about gadgets like television and cars, it’s about remembering why we founded villages and cities in the first place. So many of the wonderful tools designed to make our lives better have actually made them worse. Capitalism sucks. Smash up your televisions today and drive your cars off a cliff. And worst of all your mobile phones: take the fuckers out and grind them into pulp in your back garden with stones and bricks. And on the train home, read a book instead of playing some infantile computer game and checking your goddam emails every fifteen seconds or phoning your dad to come and pick you up at the station so that you can avoid the short walk home and therefore need to go to a gym every week instead to keep fit. Or maybe you should walk to the gym instead of driving there, then you could just turn around at the door and walk all the way back without going inside, thus getting just as fit for no money. You could even wear an anorak if it rains, instead of using cars as very expensive umbrellas. And no, don’t take up cycling and wearing silly Lycra outfits. Bicycles are labour-saving devices, didn’t anyone tell you? Are you stupid? Walk. Walk. Walk. It’s what your ancestors did for millennia and you are perfectly evolved to do it, more so in fact than any other species on earth, since they have to do it on four legs instead. Walking upright is as unique to human beings as speech. Walk, people, and talk to each other, face to face.
Ahhh… it’s a while since I had a good rant.