On checking desperately for comments on a new post

A click of the mouse

the electronic mouse

we must remember

that ‘mouse’ means

a little furry rodent

stands in

for a scream

a sob

an expletive

a thought shared

devoid of context

broadcast

into the vast starless expanse

of cyberspace

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A life well-lived

Story vaguely prompted by: https://thefuzzyinbetween.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/dsc_0163.jpg

When the old lady looked back on her life, things didn’t seem so bad. It seemed a life well-lived.

She had enjoyed her school-years, though not necessarily her school; worked for a while and lived alone; fallen in love; studied society and given it up to study nature which had at first seemed more predictable but had then betrayed her with it’s uncertainties.

She had married the man she was expected to and had never regretted it but always nursed a secret curiosity about life with the one she had fallen in love with. She had had a child, refused to leave her job to care for it, and had had another.

She had buried her headstrong daughter after a freak accident claimed her life in adolescence, and had proceeded to protect her son till he resented her for it. She had lived with her son and his family long after her husband had died and watched her granddaughters grow up. She had managed to maintain a relationship of minimal friction with her daughter-in-law.

She had believed fervently in the God of her religion, lost faith and then later, had unexpectedly stumbled upon it still within her.

She had been a revolutionary in her own little way, though not many would remember her rebellion and had eventually become a fractious part of the establishment as was expected of her. She still treasured the memory of her rebellion, and every time she held it up to the light of her own experience, she was reassured by the rightness of it in her world-view.

She had experimented with the fashions of her age, rejected some and adopted others as her own. She had enjoyed alcohol and flirted with marijuana but had not taken to either very strongly. She had dressed in severe minimalist black and then in explosions of colour and eventually had ceased to think so hard about her clothing. Her hair had grown to great lengths, been shaved off, coloured outrageous colours and had now slowly turned white.

She had acted in plays, written poetry, painted canvases and had refused to ‘judge’ the work of others because she did not believe that art could be judged until she was no longer taken seriously in those circles, though she continued to paint and write sporadically.

She had loved passionately and without reason and it had never faded though the object of her love had ceased to reciprocate. She had loved very differently along channels of respectability, and this love was not hampered by the other, nor was it in any way less.

She had risked her reputation on an idea that quickly went out of fashion and had carefully built it up again according to the rules of the world, though she never lost faith in her idea.

She had had her spells of being unreasonable, and had contributed her share of scandal to the world though both were quickly forgotten against the respectability of the life she had lived.

She had carved a life out in a world that was at times hostile to her, and then had become such a part of it that she had to guard against being hostile to those younger or more invested and intractable in their idealism than her.

It had been a full life. She had lived vigorously all the roles available to her at the time. Dutiful daughter; rebellious student; hard worker; loyal friend; passionate lover; daring daughter-in-law; loving wife; responsible, grief-striken and finally possessive mother; interesting colleague; doting and then forgotten grandmother… she had lived them all to the hilt.

And now, her days had fallen into a rhythm of basic needs. Food, sleep, exercise and the occasional conversation with a dwindling number of contemporaries. The conversations sometimes dwelt on the eventuality and inevitability of death though more often they distracted themselves from it with reminiscence, faint sorrow and laughter.

From time to time when they visited, she would remind her granddaughters that she too had been young once, and they would respond with wide-eyed interest, respect, mild amusement or embarrassment varying with their age and mood at the time of the conversation.

The old lady smiled vaguely as she tried to collect her increasingly scattered thoughts. Her pale veined hands shook slightly as she ran the wide-toothed comb through her white hair. She glanced again at the mirror on the colourful wall opposite, which her artist granddaughter had finger-painted for her, last summer.

She had never really thought of herself as an old lady, even though her hair had grown thin and turned completely white. Was that what made one old, she mused, or was it the smile-wrinkles around the eyes and the frown wrinkles on the forehead? Was it perhaps the slowly increasing folds that hung between one’s neck and one’s chin? Was it the veins that showed blue-green and the gradual fading of colour from the skin? Or was it the tendency to live more and more in one’s head, dwelling on memory and forgetting to see the every-day?

She often thought of her contemporaries as old, but herself… why she did not feel much older than nineteen. Perhaps that was vanity. She was much slower, now; her mind wandered more and she had many aches and pains that one simply did not have at nineteen. Perhaps age had more to do with a state of mind, than of body? She smiled to herself at her wishful thinking and watched her hand shake as she ran the comb slowly through her hair. Why should she wish to be something that she was not? She was eighty-seven, and proud of it.

She tied her scant hair into a bun and crouched down to a squat in the gateway, dressed in her comfortable faded white nightie. Her daughter-in-law often complained that she dressed this way and sat at the gate in a way calculated to embarrass the family. Sometimes her granddaughters agreed with their mother, so she would go back inside, change into newer clothing and bring a chair out. But sometimes she forgot and sat there, gazing down the road.

Perhaps one of her granddaughters would visit today.

When the old lady looked back on her life, things didn’t seem so bad. It seemed a life well-lived.

memories of you

anything can wake them

the memories of you

.

today it was a leaf

falling from a tree

i was sitting under

.

later the particular way

a boy at the chicken shop

glanced at me

looking up from his chopping

droplets flying off

the cleaver

that he was too young

to be wielding

.

sometimes it is the breeze

that makes me

shiver

in remembrance

of your breath

on my ear

.

or the confident stride

of the girl

in the long straight blue skirt

with the short cropped hair

and black eyes

.

anything can wake them

a little breeze

nudging at the edge

of a folded paper

.

and there is a choice

let it blow away

or dwell on the moment

and unfold the memory

and soak it in

.

sometimes there is dust

to be blown off

and smudged charcoal details

.

like the shape

of the rocks

by the lake

with the mosquitoes

we tried to ignore

that night

.

other times

it is as clear as it was

or perhaps clearer

with details sharpened

into focus

and the background

blurred

.

like the pattern

of fish

on the bra

you shed

when i didn’t look away

as you changed

.

sometimes details fade

with disuse

.

your voice

is clear in my head

but not your words

.

and other times

they fade

with too much unfolding

.

the smell of

another woman

on your skin

i cannot now recall

.

all it takes

is a moment

.

and my head fills

with memories of you

.

every one of you

who lit a spark

in my heart

.

i sink deep into

that delicious loneliness

of what-ifs

.

but in the end

it is the memory

of a memory

.

an idea of you

that you never were

and never will be

On Distance

Touch me in the rain,
And I’ll inhale the scent of you,
As we kiss.

 

The remembered joy of moments we shared
Animates my daily existence
And time spirals around a longing
For your electronically transmitted voice-
A window into that mystical shared space
We build, moment by moment-
Inadequate and ephemeral
To the desperate reality of blind clawing need;
Memories, leaving a bitter-sour aftertaste of dissatisfaction
Like forgotten black coffee.

 

You come to me, my love,
In the depths of the night
And in the reality of darkness
We relive and forge anew
Our inextinguishable passion.

 

And in the watery light of day,
A vague shadow of my self navigates
A pale meaningless Existence,
Hinged on the promise
Of the tantalizing sound
Of your voice
Beamed across the vast silent spaces
Between us.