Having written this poem a few months ago, I now find myself wondering if it gets anywhere near communicating what I was trying to say. Did I even know what I was trying to say? Sometimes an idea is floating around somewhere in the space of the head, but trying to properly grasp it and then elucidate it in words seems near impossible.
How do we or should we deal with the ‘mess’ that is life, especially if one does not believe in the simple notions that religious doctrines offer, for example that all ‘good’ people will go to ‘heaven’ and the ‘bad’ to ‘hell’, or that a god will ultimately intervene in the mess and absolute ‘good’ will reign. I tend towards the Taoist view that all is relative, that there cannot be good without bad, and vice versa. And yet – how are we to deal with, in our heads, this negative stuff that is all around us? Is it ever possible to simply ‘accept’ it?
The American poet, Carl Sandburg, said that ‘Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance.’ Someone else said that ‘a poem is never finished, only abandoned.’ Hmmm.
What else would you do with this imperfect life
but push the spade deep
into the sacred earth
to lift the glorious fruit,
through the spinning cycle of seasons,
your head into the driven hail?
but be mindful of each moment
after moment after moment,
knowing the impossibility of it,
and pretend that
all shall be well,
as you pass the sleepless girl
on a cardboard sheet
in a Swansea doorway,
the beggar on the streets
of Mumbai, Paris, Buenos Aires,
hear of another hopeful refugee
drowning homeless in the Mediterranean Sea?
but in those rare moments of clarity
remain grateful for the buzzard’s slow circles
on the rising thermals,
the first appearance of the primrose in spring;
attempt to breathe out the insistent grief,
sweat through the work of days,
getting mind and hands dirty?
© David Urwin 2017