That means you are getting older by the minute. And wiser. And remembering things, as this poems makes you do.
The sea is a hungry dog/that churns inside your head/while he consumes your whole and spits you out/to taste the ice-cream on your stout/smorgasboard of devotion/unyielding to his mauling/while ocean lays you bleeding on the beach/and pirates celebrate/a low laid private’s finish./Then faithful doggie falls besides you like the sea/ wave in flat out growling loyalty/guarding and reclaiming its shipwrecked commodity,/Sea people love their sea.
Oh dear, dear. Who knows, who knows, what the mind can get up to in sleep. I woke from a dream in which I was writing the above. Yesterday, a friend from school days visited with me and our conversation got around to the poems we memorized as part of our English Language lessons in elementary and secondary school. Then she went on to recite, without a pause, one she said she frequently recalls when walking along the beach in Saint Lucia, a favourite by James Reeves.
by Melania Daniel
Stretching on a tottering stool
Of trepidation, you peer inside your memory,
In this attic of the brain moth-eaten dreams
May still be found. From the dank of cramped recesses
Mildewed hopes leap out like spooks
And disturb you for a burst of spring cleaning.
The days that all turn yellow in the evenings
Are falling off the calendar like autumn leaves.
In your yard, chocking with too many seasons shed,
You rake a pile of years scrawled over with your schemes
Of youth and burn all obsolete thoughts. Despair reinvents
In smoke to the escalator of your longings.
Frazzled as the time that’s growing senile
You slouch next to a window to mend some threadbare drapes
And find that you are staring at the journal of your life.
Glancing through the chapters of your face, now creased
And fading pages, you read some dreary lines
Of stalled beginnings; maybe a little dye
Of rouge and blush will make this tale more colorful.
Is there any joy in reading a familiar bedtime story
When the children have all flown?
And only the mocking laughter of echoes find humor
In this fable of fulfillment? Shuffle back into the attic,
Perhaps the other version can still be found. More fanciful,
That one lies buried in the clutter of homemaking.
Where all along discontent laid grubs to furrow
In the contours of your face, and nurture
In the cracks of your skin. While carving grooves inside your teeth
You hear their jeering chatter; it’s fall, they’re saying
Fall, you’re affirming, it’s never too late for spring cleaning.
Before I had somewhere to be
Back when we had all night
And we were happy
This is a somewhat side note to my previous post. The real event behind Shakespeare’s “we few, we happy few” speech in his Henry V play took place on October 25, the Christian feast day of Saints Crispin and Crispinian.
What’s the practice of naming twins in your part of the world? In my birth country names for twins sound a lot like that of the real or possibly mythological saints Crispin and Crispinian. I had a classmate called Melanius who was not my twin but we have names like Marcus and Malcus; Joanne and Joanna; Petra and Petrus, Ross and Rosen – you get the drift.
I had a dear friend and co-worker from England who found great mirth in these names. She figured the tradition came from the near blanket Roman Catholic coverage of St. Lucia at the time, and the habit of priests having the final say in what the name of infants being baptized would be – almost always something to do with the feast of the saint that fell on the day your baby was born or was being christened. People went home after the baptism and called their children what they intended in the first place, so most St. Lucians have a nom kay (home name), nom batenm (baptismal name) and an ever changing nom savann (literally field name or nicknames your friends/peers give you).
The English and French fought many bloody battles for St. Lucia during the colonial period, with the island exchanging hands 14 times between these two, well, well-known historical warmongers. Finally St. Lucia ended under British ownership, but was left with mainly French names of people and places, almost everybody Catholic like the French were, French fashion, culture and cuisine everywhere and all the slave (and later ex-slave) population speaking a French creole/patois that the English and officialdom pretended not to understand. That went on well into modern times. It was not too long ago that the local magistrates/judges had an official translator to stand between them and people speaking creole, to retell testimony in English, even though the judiciary spoke perfect creole. The ‘kweyol’ was banned in the local Parliament for a long while after St. Lucia became independent from England…politicians were only allowed to speak to their creole speaking constituents in English.
Finally, I am taking advantage of the holiday weekend out here and I’m going to watch Room. I have been meaning to, since it came out in 2015. My interest is a little more than passing. In 2010 -2011, I was doing a graduate journalism degree in London (Ontario) and with that an elective in arts and entertainment reporting. I love to engage all kinds of people and hear what they have to say, especially if they are writers. I went after a story about Emma Donoghue for one of my key course assignments. She was in the headlines at the time – Room had been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. I attended a public lecture she gave and asked questions there, got a brief in-person interview (pity I can’t post that audio) and she was generous enough to agree to talk on the phone and answer more questions via email. My course instructor was not particularly thrilled with my submission – he felt the focus was on something future that might never happen (the writer telling me of her plans to get a movie out of the book Room). I did grumble to myself that he was not impressed that I had gotten a busy, hard to pin down somebody to give me her time, after I had indicated up front that my focus during his course would be writers.
Anyways, here is that article and some of the interview Q & A that I did not use.