Sunday, October 01, 2006

Poem: On Beginning Work at the Counselling Unit

Of the poems that make their home
In the important events of our lives,
Why should they only nest
In endings and weddings?

Deaths and departings surely deserve their sadness
To be heard in this way.
And poems flock happily to weddings,
Like cockatoos turning the trees white
With their cacophony, even at midnight.

So why not beginnings? Is this not a winning
Time for alliteration and rhyme?
And anyway, all beginnings are endings,
Janus-like, facing both ahead and behind,
Something has to have been left or lost,
For us to have reached this starting point.

We have closed many doors, said many goodbyes;
We have cried many tears, eyes sometimes swollen:
The pain is not forgotten, we hold it to our hearts.

The road through these losses been long,
And we still long for the home
Whose door we shut behind us,
Blocking out all the dear old things,
The parts of ourselves we left behind
To reach this moment.

It is easier to write about what has past:
Its meaning-state is set,
Its sense has converged
On a small set of ambiguities,
Approximating a firmness we take for real.

But what we face at this moment is the opposite:
Now the options spread out before us,
With fractally branching paths fanning out
In many directions, ever-ramifying
Quantum ghosts of possibility
Whispering us on our way to – where?

* * *

It is raining as I leave for my long week-end run,
A Scottish smirr begins to soak in.
But I am not dreich as I reach the canal,
Where I must choose, and choose again,
Which way to go.

This day, I turn right onto the old towpath.
I run past the gas works,
Keep on going over the River Kelvin,
Climbing past the locks at Maryhill,
Following the canal as it crosses high above the road.

At the canal junction, for the first time,
I descend the steps, turn left,
Take the tunnel, and rejoin the path
As the canal veers away from town.

There is no one on this stretch of the canal,
Just the rain pattering on the path.
So I let my thoughts follow the channel as it curves
Beneath the great towers of power lines
Emerging from the switching station,
Where giant totemic figures form rows
Ready to march across Central Scotland.

There so many possibilities for me here,
I see again, and so much power,
Like the water locked between
The locks of the canal,
And in the lochs above the City.

So much capacity, I muse,
As I pass Possil Marsh,
I’m not some old fossil, washed up here.
This is a beginning, for me, for us.

A gray egret, whom I passed a few minutes back,
Suddenly rises and flies on ahead,
Along the canal,
As it curves into the future.

-Glasgow, 1 October 2006

No comments: