Sunday, 23 February 2014
I saw this beautiful illustration online today, and felt its winter wolf inspire me, impel me, to compose the following lines in its honour.
White wolf of winter, of starlight and icicle,
Padding softly through the silver trees in blue frozen haze,
Its chilling breath swirling, curling, a smoke of sudden snowflakes,
Its frosted fur sparking and shimmering in pale, pellucid scintillation,
Its azure eyes imparting a glacial gleam of cool frigid fire.
It turns and gazes at me as I stand before its mesmerising presence,
Resistance is futile, is fickle, submission is solace, is all.
I never suspected that death would be so subtle, so silent.
But then the bright sun filters down from the treetops,
Down through the branches to where we both stand.
And the winter wolf vanishes -
A spectre swept past-ward,
A dream dreamed and done with,
A shadow extinguished,
A vision discounted.
The snow keeps on falling as I retrace homeward,
The winter wolf's footprints my lone steadfast guide,
I still hear its howling, its heartbeat, all round me,
I still feel its cool chilling breath on my face,
And know that one day it will come, it will find me.
And I shall be there, shall be waiting anew.
Sunday, 15 December 2013
Life is for the living, and death is for the dying. But what is there for those whose living has no life, and for whom dying is not death but release?
WEARY OF LIFE
Weary of life,
Of shrugging off the darkened drapes of melancholy,
Settling like a shroud of grief upon my shoulders,
Like a veil around my face,
Like a mask around my mind.
Weary of life,
Of shaking from my memory the dusty webs of sorrow,
Woven by the spiders in the chasms of my soul,
In the ashes of my future,
In the sunsets of my past.
Weary of life,
Of gazing at the broken, empty dream that once had lived,
That once had brought the light of love, of hope, to me,
Lost now, all over, dead and done for,
Lost now, 'midst the stillness of my tomb.
Wednesday, 23 October 2013
This morning, I visited the newly-completed gravestone of my mother, Mary Doreen Shuker (1921-2013), which has taken 6 months to prepare. Standing there in the solitude of the cemetery, it all still seemed so unreal, that the vibrant little lady always so full of life, of living, and of love was gone, her time in this world marked only by the stone and grave there before me, beautiful and elegant though they were, just like she had always been. Come the closing of December, I shall not grieve the passing of 2013, but I shall forever grieve the passing within it of my mother, whose light is gone from my world until that joyous day when we will be reunited forever. The following lines are ones that I wrote yesterday evening, after I'd previously attempted to visit Mom's grave a few hours earlier, only to discover to my dismay that the cemetery had already closed.
THE CHAINED GATES
This afternoon at around 4.10 pm I received a phone call from the memorial stone masons informing me that Mom's gravestone with her inscription was at last complete and in place upon her grave. The weather wasn't good, so I decided not to visit straight away, but then at around 4.50 pm it improved and the sun came out. So I psyched myself up to be ready, then got the car out and drove to the cemetery, only to find that it was locked. It turns out that from October to April it closes at 4.30 pm, instead of at 7.00 pm as it does for the rest of the year. I didn't know that.
Standing there, outside the cemetery with its chained gates separating me from Mom's grave, was heavily symbolic for me - it is after all a representation of the real situation that I endure every day. I stand in this life, and Mom in the next, so I am separated from her by the great divide of death, the chained gates through which I cannot pass while still alive. Seeing those gates brought it all home to me so much. Of course, I know that I have only to wait until tomorrow to be able to walk through the unchained cemetery gates and be with Mom's mortal self at her grave, whereas I have to wait for the rest of my life before I can transcend death to be with her in spiritual immortality.
Her gravestone was the last thing that I could organise for Mom, and I hope that it is elegant and beautiful, just as she always was. Mom never liked the taking of flowers to graves, as they soon fade and die, or are stolen by others, so I've instructed that a pair of multicoloured bouquets be engraved onto her gravestone, so that she will always have flowers that will never fade, never die, and never be stolen.
Visting her completed grave for the first time will in a sense mark the final footstep in my own personal Via Dolorosa, the sorrowful path that I have trodden for the past 29 weeks since she passed away while everything associated with her funeral and burial was being organised by me for her and was then being carried out, stage by stage. My grief will not be abated by my visit, but there is nothing more that I can do for her now in a direct, physical way, except to make something of what is left of my life - something good, something worthwhile - if I can, as I know how much she would want me to do that, and also to ensure that her name and memory live on, as my personal tribute to a truly wonderful mother and the best person I shall ever know.
Mom is at peace; may my visit to her final resting place on Earth bring me, if still too early for peace yet, at least some degree of acceptance, of understanding regarding our mortality in this present world, in this present life, and also some reaffirment of hope that there is a new life and an everlasting reunion with those we love beyond it, beyond those chained gates that stand before us all during our time here.
Tuesday, 23 July 2013
I saw the above picture earlier tonight while browsing online, and its strange, melancholic beauty drew from me the following lines, which echo the solitude of my own existence.
THE STAG OF HEAVEN
Gently, calmly, in stately silence,
The hart of Heaven, the celestial stag,
Steps forward through the graveyard of my life.
Its leafy coat, grass-green amid the moonlight,
Flows like forest waves upon the lake,
And glows like living foxfire in my eyes.
Its antlers bear the promised buds of future years,
The dreams that may be mine in other days,
And I can only wait and hope and pray.
It passes from my sight, the land is dark,
No phosphorescent glimmer, the waters still and cold,
And I? Alone once more, as ever it shall be.
Saturday, 22 June 2013
Photograph by Andy Paciorek
Who can say what the future holds? We can only hope that we will be equal to its challenge.
THE ROAD OF LIFE
The road of life has many turnings,
And where they lead is usually hidden from view.
So we must have faith that, wherever it may be,
The sun is shining,
The grass is fresh and green,
And life still holds some purpose, some meaning, in store.
Otherwise we may just as well sink to our knees -
Alone and adrift by the wayside,
Watching our dreams shatter and perish on the stony ground,
Weeping impotent tears of sorrow, desolation,
Willing our days to darken, disintegrate, dwindle into dust -
Saturday, 13 April 2013
A final word-picture, this time unrhymed, in which I have attempted to recapture via alliteration, onomatopoeia, and selected repetition the subtle beauty and sounds of the seashore experienced one evening alone with only the sands and waves for company, and the thought that perhaps there really is something more out there than merely our own mortality. Until the next time…
YESTERDAY NO LONGER - THE SEASHORE BY TWILIGHT
Over the slumbering shore I stroll, over the gently undulating seas of glistening sand, shining silver in the pale, overlapping light of the moon and stars. The violet sea flows gently up the silver layers of sandy shore, coated with white surf, billowing like featherdown. It makes no sudden, sharp movement as I walk between the grey, red, green, and yellow pebbles strewn over the seashore, speckled here and there with spiralled shells, almost as if it too were sleeping, the mauve and blue waves reflecting silver light that darts back and forth over their sparkling crests like living shadows cast down from the moon.
As I walk on, the sea stretches alongside, endless in its volume and capacity, rolling softly over silent shores like a blue fluid wind, billowing and ruffling, casting up airborne bubbles to spiral and cycle before bursting, their souls returning downwards to be reborn in the waters of the sea.
And as I look at the sea in this dark, silent evening, it seems as if another world lies beyond its shimmering boundaries, lying just behind the horizon, to which, one day, we shall all go, across the rolling waves of the ocean – leaving behind the silver sands, passing through the tranquil twilight, until we reach the very end of the ocean itself, and then at last we shall be there. We shall have left the world behind, our cares and our hopes and our dreams all forgotten, leaving the slumbering sea to caress the sleepy shores forever.
Thursday, 28 February 2013
How strange it is that whereas the seconds of our lives pass quite slowly, the minutes seem to go by faster, and the hours faster still, as our lives race ever onward to their conclusion. And yet as they depart, others commence – the one certainty in a world of uncertainly is that Life, in an innumerable multitude of forms, is ever-present.
LIFE - THE INFINITY OF THE WORLD
The throbbing fingers of a clock
Tick slowly by, ne’er ceasing,
Just as Time moves on forever,
Never stopping, never easing,
In its swift, eternal race
Through the vales of Outer Space.
Seconds trickle by like raindrops
In my life, so little being,
Followed closely by the minutes
As they chase, forever fleeing,
Through the heavens still and grey
In the silhouette of Day –
Like a windmill turning softly
Through a timeless, depthless pool,
As its orbit circles ever
Round its lone, immortal spool,
Till it sinks away to die
‘Neath the shadows of the sky.
Thus my life flits swiftly onwards
As the hours soon drop away
Like a host of cloudy phantoms,
Growing fainter every day,
Till at last their forms are gone,
And the Future marches on –
Like a journey hoping ever
For a journey of its own,
As its unknown dreams await me,
Each I meet but once, alone.
Then it’s gone, it cannot wait,
Nor can any ghost of Fate,
Till, to God, my soul turns humbly
On my final mortal day.
Metamorphosis is over,
And my spirit flies away,
To a Land of lasting Peace,
Where e’en Time shall find release.