Posted by: John Looker | 9 December, 2016

Out On The Lawn

 

Closing her eyes at night she can easily see 
    the wide open vistas of home, easily feel
         the cool upland airs, or recall the intimacy
     with mother and sisters – and the old ones too –
         talking over local tea, cinnamon spiced.

Here in a distant land the ways of living
     are unsettling. Her little flat. Her strict hours
          in uniform among their sick and elderly,
     helping them eat, wash, all those intimate things.
         And always the bell, insistent, shrieking.

One of her charges has begged to be out in the sun
     and she, although it’s her lunch, wheels him to sit
          by the last few roses. She gathers chestnuts
     to put in his hands, asks about children’s games,
         and leans closer – with golden wings – to listen.

 

© John Looker 2016

From time to time I write another poem on the theme of The Human Hive, that’s to say looking at life through work. This is a recent example.

The Human Hive, published via Amazon by Bennison Books, now costs £2.80 or $5.40

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Responses

  1. Wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A glimpse into the declining time, where inauspicious angels hover, nice.

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  3. Moving and beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Im on a break from WP John but had to comment on this wonderful poem. It resonated after witnessing much when I used to visit my mother and subsequently my father. I love short poems that do a big job and this is one of them. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s very nice to hear from you Christine, and thank you.

      Like

  5. Beautiful John

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Caregivers deserve far more credit than they receive. Well done!

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  7. Shared on the BB Facebook page. Love this one, John. 🙂

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    • Thank you Deborah, I really appreciate that.

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  8. A month ago I was able to get to Grand Junction, Colorado over the San Juan Mountains from New Mexico to see my Mom, John. She is suffering from severe short term memory lost and is in a nursing home. The nursing home itself is well run, and my brother is able to visit my mother everyday in order to track what is going on in her daily life. But still . . .
    While in Grand Junction I took her out on one of the two porches to sit in the late fall sun every day in her wheelchair. The roses were still blooming, although they will have stopped by now, and the moment out of the home with its constant movement and too often sad residents was a blessing.
    You have achieved a profound truth in this poem, one that has to resonate with the millions who are experiencing what I am experiencing with my Mom. I won’t get to see her again until spring, I suspect. There are mountains on all sides of the Grand Valley where Grand Junction sits, it’s a long way away, but I am hoping my mother gets out on the patio several times a week even though the roses no longer bloom, and even Grand Junction gets cold.
    Thank you for this poem. It, frankly, made me feel better about today.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My word, that is very moving Tom. Thank you for relating this, and with such telling detail. Such a difficult experience to live through.

      Like

  9. There’s a lovely completeness to this: the past; the present; the very specific now and its reverberations forward and back. Whew. And so compact.

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    • That’s very kind of you – the compactness was important to me and I’m glad you feel it paid off.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Enjoyed this a lot, John. As one of the above commenters said, it says a lot with a few words, like ‘the last few roses’. For some reason, I liked more that the careworkers home country is left unspecified, defined instead by a few images – as that is much how memory often works.

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  11. Thanks Andy – I appreciate the detailed observations you offered me. I wanted to build with few words and selected images.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I was wondering about the golden wings. I mean unsettling is the perfect word, but golden wings? Then I remembered the opening– poems often return to the opening. The golden wings are those of sleep, and sleep takes her home. How lovely!

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    • You were right to question ‘golden wings’ Tom, and I appreciate your frankness. Feedback helps, doesn’t it? That last line remained in draft form for weeks and went through several revisions. In the end, I felt that the wings image did what I wanted but I waited to see how others might react. Thanks again.

      Like

  13. I enjoyed this one with it’s sensitive treatment of a common theme, especially among those of us who either have elderly relatives or are approaching this place ourselves.

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    • Thank you for that Jane, it is nice to know that the poem resonates with people who have some experience of these things.

      Like

  14. A beautiful poem, John, and one that resonates with me strongly. My late mum, suffering Alzheimers, was in a wonderful care home near Wrexham, visited for several hours daily by my elderly dad, even in the most inclement weather, despite having a dozen miles to drive each way. His love and devotion knew no bounds.

    It might be thought an air of debility would predominate in such a home but actually it was a most welcoming, bright, happy place, and I shall always be grateful to the staff for the care they took of my mum in her last years, and the care they took of my dad too. Many of the care assistants were young Filipino women whose cheerful manner and tireless endeavours contributed so much to the atmosphere and quality of care. I shall never forget their smiling faces and gentle laughter.

    Sadly my dad passed away in 2012, six years after my mum.

    I’ve read ‘Out On The Lawn’ to my partner Maureen Weldon (a former professional ballet dancer with the Irish Theatre Ballet and since the latter 80s a widely published poet) and she thought it beautiful too.

    Very best wishes from us both for the Festive Season.

    Paul

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  15. Many thanks Paul for sharing those thoughts and memories – I appreciate that very much. Thank you also for reading the poem to someone else; I find that a great honour. I’m about to do a web search for Maureen Weldon’s poetry. Very best wishes to you both as well!

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  16. Beautiful. May we all find shelter neath the golden wings of good listeners.

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  17. John, Thank you for making your words available and allowing me to enter this room of your poetry, invited by Cynthia whose passing has moved me in depths I could never have predicted. I will order your volume today as you let us know can be done and am eagerly awaiting news of how and when I might find her new volume of poetry available from Bennison. Thank you for agreeing to take on the work of making her legacy more available. Please put my email in your contact book. Cyn and I were friends for nearly 55 years, from teen years till our most recent contact (in addition to exchanges on her blog) in June when we were to see one another until she decided she wasn’t up to it.

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    • Thank you so much for leaving this comment here, Julie. I know through having followed Cynthia Jobin’s blog since she began it that you are a longstanding and close friend of Cynthia’s, so of course you must feel her death deeply. Her poetry had won her many admirers and friends through her WordPress blog, and her warmth and intellect will be missed by us. I can’t find your email address I’m afraid but if you like to leave it here I will write to you and delete it. With best wishes, John

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Beautiful, John. Allows us to empathize with both the caregiver and the elderly fold she takes care of. My mother-in-law is a retired nurse who worked exclusively with elderly and dying women and men. She saw it as a privilege, despite the hardships, and felt her upbringing in Jamaica – where elderly people often live with the younger generation, and dying was a natural part of an old person’s life, not something to fear.
    I also want to express my condolences to you and others who followed Cynthia Jobin’s blog and who knew her. What a special soul, and what a wit. I shall miss her.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think we’re all still grieving for Cynthia, and will be for a long time. It’s surprising how connected we can become with someone we’ve never met in person. She was a huge presence here on WP, and it’s comforting to read the words of others who knew her.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I hear you. I’ve talked about Cynthia with my friends and relatives – before and after she died. And just last week I made a similar comment to yours, because I’d never met her in person, but felt her spirit and character so keenly. My condolences to you and all who cared for her.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thank you for your reply; I do remember seeing you on Cynthia Jobin’s blog. In some way she is perhaps bringing kindred spirits together – still!

          Liked by 1 person

    • I have just discovered that I had not replied to your comment Cynthia – I was away from home at the time and out of regular Internet contact. I’m very grateful to you for sharing your own thoughts and experience here. And indeed for your thoughtful tribute to Cynthia Jobin; yes, her wisdom, and wit, are missed by many of us.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. This poem touched me deeply, John – for the same reasons that Christine mentioned. Beautifully written, as always.

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    • Hello Betty. Thank you for these kind words, and I am touched by your exchange with Cynthia Reyes.

      Like


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