Friday, 18 March 2011

For Brian


A series of words on a page describe
a road viewed from an attic room;
British, terraced, an incline,
a place called a home by
countless families, and not
one of them wrong.

Growing up is something that is done
by all of us; whether we think that's bad
and philosophise about history, and life,
the certainty of death, or ignore problems
of that size and are glad for what is left:
a chance; an experience; to make a mark.
Me? I feel a pressure in my chest when
confronted by this mess; the stark, woven
mess of opportunity that never ends.
The cliché of the blank page feels very apt
as I try to write a letter I will never send.
Those are just words on a page too.

Half a century ago, I think - the nineteen-fifties -
you started your own Ulysses. Day after day
was a journey; a journey that stands out
no more than Poldy. No more than any
bus driver or school teacher, no priest,
politician or pub keeper. They are all alive
and they are nothing more than words on a page.
Day after day becomes year after year and
children of children are the heirs of heirs:
me and me now look to you, and you then,
and it is a soft blanket to my fears.

Back in the attic room there is a collection
of workbooks; it looks like something
my father would write. Does this mean
he was once a child? Does this mean he
once felt like I do now? I have no idea
how to be a person. Am I too concerned
with myself? Is this solipsism really
just selfish? I should ask him one day,
hopefully before I have my own attic room
because that would be far too late.
The other contents of the room are important:
it is mostly books, more words on a page,
documents and toys and the occasional
heirloom, each one the pointed tip
of an iceberg waiting to be thawed out.
Each one a narrative that never fought
to be told. Each one growing old.

Nothing more than words on a page,
but what more could you ask for?
A word on a page is a permanence,
A piece of life in a penstroke,
and a part of you, or I, that will never die.