31 August 2022

Billy Connolly's languor and the dead roses

It's Billy Collins day, I think to myself softly because I'm alone, and for me, this poem seems like a postcard of summer. And it's the last day of summer UP ABOVE, there in the Northern Hemisphere where my childhood once lived. But down here, DOWN-UNDER in Australia, it's the last day of winter. And to prove it, I hear the light buzz of crickets through the open window for the second night running.  

A dear friend whom I knew many years ago gave me this book sometime during our friendship, when we were still friends and shared secrets, before her two boys were killed on a freeway on their way back home to see her and her husband on that cruel hot day of July 23 2010. This day changed them both completely, as it would, of course. I am not sure they have ever recovered from this tragic loss. My friendship died too (her husband was never crazy about me in the first place to be honest, he just put up with me for her sake, which happens a lot more than we imagine) But with her, all the warmth dried up, dried out, desiccated, like frail roses in a dusty drawer over the following year after the incident. It wobbled for a while until I couldn't find anything more to say into her silence in which she now lived. Then I heard that she was cutting people out of her life like an impatient gardener weeding with poison. 

We were replaced by her dead boys' circle of friends, and one cannot argue with any of this, it is what it is, as they say. 

But I think of her sometimes, especially during the summer, and when I pull out this small book of poems. Here is one of my favourites.


I have come back to the couch-

hands behind my head,

legs crossed at the ankles-

to resume my lifelong study 

of the ceiling and its river-like crack,

it's memory of a water stain,

the touch of civilisation 

in the rounded steps of the moulding,

and the lick of time in the flaking plaster.

To move would only ruffle 

the calm surface of the morning,

and disturb shadows of leaves in the windows.

And to throw open a door 

would startle the fish in the pond,

maybe frighten a few birds from a hedge.

Better to stay here,

to occupy the still room of thought,

to listen to the dog breathing on the floor.

Better to count my lucky coins,

or redesign my family coat of arms-

remove the plow and hive, shoo away the bee.

1 comment:

  1. So much to mourn and yet to rejoice in one more day