Saturday, 18 October 2014

Memory stick


You're piecing who said what to whom and when,

to understand a new experience

and make the telling of it a less pain.

Remembrance isn't living in that sense.

Then, of course, I remember. And the day

clouds over at this knowing what you've lost,

the clouding not the greatest price you pay.

Remembrance isn't living at that cost.

Every moment jabs with old silliness.

Remembrance isn't living so. It goes

its round with shared meals, bonfires, poppies. Yes,

remembrance lives where much has reached a close.

But there are injuries on Bonfire Night.

And grouped remembrances will start a fight.

This poem was written for a competition organized by Rhyme and Reason, the poetic fundraising arm of Rennie Grove Hospice Care.  It didn't win any prizes, but it was included in the longer list of works published in the charity's 2015 desk diary.  The theme of the competition, and of several others in 2014, was 'Remembrances'; highly suited to publication in a desk diary.  I'm buying one. Unlike a pocket diary, whose purpose -- prospective memory --  is far better fitted now by an online calendar, the desk diary goes well with retrospect, with noting the day's events after they have happened.  The 2015 Rhyme and Reason diary will continue the record I have kept every day since January 1969.

The quotation in italics is from C.S. Lewis' A grief observed.  Also feeding into the poem, undoubtedly, is the reading I did in 2014 for 'Heritage wars', the Haddon Library's contribution to Cambridge University's Alumni Festival.