Friday, June 29, 2007

A Third Poem

Poem 3

Poem three hereunder marks a personal struggle, the struggle to accept the gradual decline into further dementia of my mother who is the great age of 90 years. In the last year, she has more or less ceased to know us at a conscious level, though my brothers and I fancy that she recognises us at some pre-conscious or sub-conscious level. There are times when she has sparks, literally momentary flashes of clarity, all too brief in a greater firmament of mumbo-jumbo and gobbledegook. I think the effort speaks for itself. Again, I’m not too happy with it as a poem. The third person voice in the poem is me obviously. Whether this attempt at objectifying my experience is successful is questionable indeed.

Say Goodbye to Daddy

He had reworked the words
More times than he cared to count
Yet they still failed to capture
What he wanted –
Still failed to come to much
Save for their sound,
Their grunting sound
Like the groans of the old woman
With half a tongue
Cut away to cancer,
Her smile radiant,
Her gestures open and innocent
Like a child’s.

That evening he had stood for some minutes
At the French windows watching
The last rays of sun
Disappear behind the trees
Choked with early summer leaves.
His mother was lost to him now,
Playing with a teddy like a child
Somewhere behind his back,
But she was happy
In her senseless world.

Still no wisdom came,
No guiding voice
To put some form
On the void –
Except a lunatic laugh
From another old dear
Lost also far away
In another senseless world –
The joke he knew was on him –

Some of these creatures were happy
At least, not tormented
Like those conscious of their plight
Or by grappling with the meaning
Of the struggle to keep going
Despite the odds –
All they knew was what their senses
Told them of their joys and pains
More relevant than any memories past
No matter how significant then.

Of late he had taken to stopping
And staring from the kitchen or toilet window
At sights he once was blind to:
The young neighbours from the East
Playing cards around a table
Just like long ago when he too
Was a boy with a winning hand.
Or then the slow methodical actions of
A hooded crow swallowing its unknown prey
On a neighbour’s roof was a study
Altogether riveting his attention.

On his way out of the ward that night
When he had said a fond goodbye,
His mother looked the teddy in the eye, and said:
“Say goodbye to daddy…Say goodbye to daddy.”

Above is a recent picture of my mam in St Mary's Hospital, Phoenix Park, Dublin.

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