Mulch for Memories

 
  
 Time
 does not behave
 now as it used to,
 or perhaps, just maybe
 from such slowing down
 its behaviour 
 is more noticeable.
  
 Bound in places,
 held in spaces
 what happens
 to spacetime,
 when space contracts,
 time constricts?
  
 Seeing no one,
 unless observed remotely,
 from windows walking past,
 or in virtual space 
 in real time – 
 What then is real?
 What is time?
 What is space?
 Or 
 Where is real?
 Where is time?
 Where is space?
  
 What have we become?
 Who are we becoming?
  
 Going nowhere beyond the shop,
 necessities seem more necessary,
 for they are the reason
 to leave one’s space for a time,
 venturing to other places
 masked and distanced.
  
 Unable to trust anyone,
 who knows when or whether
 a stranger or a friend
 carries the contagion,
 making us wary
 as in every moment life’s time
 for each individual
 crawls and scurries onward.
  
 What is lost of time’s trajectory,
 no less precious for its ephemerality,
 no less regretted for what feels like
 its wasting,
 differently experienced now
 slipping past day on day,
 hour by moment
 for a nearly a year gone forever?
  
 Shards, scraps, shreds
 of time tumble
 in free fall as
 autumn’s leaves
 landing silent and mostly unremarked
 forming mulch for memories.
  
   

My Twenty-One-Year-Old Self

My twenty-one-year-old self looks down on me,
watching from the wall across from my bed,
as I sleep and waken,
follows me around the room,
leaning out from her canvas home,
curious and enigmatic.



I wonder sometimes what she thinks
of the life I have made in the forty-six years
since she was painted,
a time and a life committed
by brush, oils and skill
to be a wedding present from my father,
when according to him at the time
I looked like everyone and no one,
too young with too little of life lived
to make my features have
the unique signature of self
only time can grant.
 
Sitting here with her looking down on me now,
on the anniversary of that marriage
which failed after a quarter century,
I wonder what will happen to her
when I am gone,
I who leave no descendants,
no one who would want a portrait of me;
but I shelve these musings
choosing instead to wonder
about the life I’d be living now
had I not changed my name,
not been divorced two times,
gone to university at eighteen
instead of thirty-five,
not answered the call to leave
the religion of my birth
as well at its country.
 
For I can see shadows of those other lives
lived surely in other places,
and perhaps on other planes,
from that which I inhabit now,
lives with descendants perhaps
to carry her forth along
with my genetics.
 
I look at her watching me
perceiving no judgement 
sensing no disappointment,
feeling no regret,
rather there is acceptance,
without resignation and the acknowledgement
life has its twists and turns,
that there are eddies and still pools
in the flow of time as well as
raging torrents pushing one onward,
for the trajectory of being is complex,
and the algebra of the heart
and the trigonometry of the soul
remain mysterious.
 
What I make of the life
I have created for myself
by the paths I have taken,
the doors I have either entered or closed,
the decisions and choices I have made,
whether with my heart or with my head,
whether wise or foolish,
each have led me here
to a place my twenty-one-year-old self
there and then could never have imagined,
where my sixty-seven-year-old self
here and now can have a silent conversation with her,
with that me, any time that I desire,
and in those moments find a sense
of continuity transcending there and then,
where place and time
no longer matter for in the flow
of being all are one.

My World Shrank

For the second time in my life
my world shrank.

The first time by expansion when,
volunteering as the assistant
to my then husband,
San Diego’s first port chaplain,
the world came to me
as I sat dishing out stamps and change
to the crew of various passenger ships
regularly calling at there.

In this way, I worked with people
from all over the world,
and though it was a big world
knowing someone from most continents
made it see much smaller,
places I would never dream of visiting,
and in many cases had no desire to do so,
were brought to me as letters to family
passed over my table with exotic,
often complicated addresses.

Indeed, my world shrank
to encompass the whole of it.
Since then I have relocated
to another country smaller than America,
but the memory of that larger
smaller world
lingered.

When lockdown began my world shrank again,
this time contracting instead of expanding
in some mysterious pandemic physics,
to be the acre, give or take,
the property on which I now live,
and it is a world-size that I can truly
get my head and heart,
soul and spirit around.

It is the house,
the front garden, drive and garage,
it is the back garden with its
ten raised beds and soon to be installed
water feature and potted trees planted,
it is the orchard with its new
and previously resident fruit trees.

This is now my world,
one I can easily circumnavigate,
not getting wet unless I run into the sprinkler,
one where I know the non-human residents,
listen in wonder at their various languages
in scolding or in song,
where the wind speaks its own words,
differently through every tree,
where I recognise and know where
the sun and moon and stars
will be each night.

For the second time my world
shrank and though I do not understand
what this smaller world will mean
in the long run,
it a world where I am content,
where I want to be,
where I know and am known,
where I am learning lessons unimagined.

For the second time in my life,
my world shrank,
and I am in no real hurry for it to expand.

A Day too Still

Walking on a day too still,
the world all silent waiting,
wondering what portends,
querying the hush,
quiet enough to hear
Poplar’s leaves
drifting
groundward,
though in the distance
combines rake the fields bare.

Going farther
at the stone bridge can be seen
through Stream’s running waters
long tendrilled trailing grasses,
bright Stream Nymphs’ hair.
and the gathering of bubbles
over mini rapids congregating
air’s infusion linking
elements and Elementals.

On down the path
where Stream babbles singing water’s song
to mudded banks eroded
in days well gone and long forgotten,
hear Heron call when taking flight,
strain to see Woodpecker least spotted
rhythmically tapping muffled on a living tree,
see Old Yaffle airborne low,
and Moorhen crossing in front ignoring danger
eager to enter Stream’s bidding,
‘come join my swirling dance’.

Turning round where the path ends
at a mown and empty field,
no gleaning birds to see
the harvest truly past there,
back now observing elderberries
hanging heavy where once
flowers held heads high,
spider woven portcullises
drawn down before the blackberries
with stinging nettle sentinels
only the brave or foolish,
insect or walker,
reach for the fruit.

Then came out the sun
clearing clouds overcasting,
creating a less white sky,
the temperature rising muggy,
but the silence remained
etched into the space
marking fast the day.