When Death Comes, by Mary Oliver
When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.
I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.
On a grey, wet winter day I gathered my stick about me and walked into town. I was tired and sore and grumpy, and in need of poetry. Balm for my bruises.
You may be thinking that I have any number of poetry books in the house, and easy access to a whole wide world of words, but happenstance meant I’d already got a ticket for a poetry reading. L had done the hard work, I just turned up.
The reading was by Ciaran Carson, and he surprised me greatly. Melodic Irish airs played on a marching band flute. Who knew marching band flutes didn’t come pre programmed with The Sash? (Now, that’s a link I’d never imagined posting…)
Carson was reared through Irish, learning English outside the home. He talked about the differences between words and meanings and languages. Somehow, I’m now interested in the word ‘fetch‘ which he described as having haunted him for years. So many meanings, such interpretation, variety and storytelling.
In discussion about ‘other’ worlds, he was asked if he believed in such things, or if it was just a good story. “Just a good story? Just?”
The story telling, the use of language, the words: that is what interests him. And his use of them caught my imagination, brought my self away from my piddly little bruises, and sparked my mind.
Carson’s poem Belfast Confetti can be heard, and seen, over at The Poetry Archive. It’s worth the trip
A few months on, we know more and more about our Jake. He’s generally contented to be asleep at our feet, but has no problem being in the house on his own for a while. He makes his opinions felt, but now rarely digs his heels in and refuses to participate. He loves his food; except when he doesn’t.
He has even begun to play. Now, not much, and not every day, but he has picked up a soft rattley item and worried at it when he’s being stroked. “Keep rubbing his tummy, no, don’t stop yet, watch!” Oh, the excitement! That our wee old man could be beginning to relax enough with us to play, just a little. We’d thought he didn’t know how.
He doesn’t want to be bothered with other dogs. Mostly he’s ok if they come to sniff around him, but he has been known to rear up in protest, putting the fear of god into Spurs Fan. Jake’s always on a lead- just in case a bouncy dog wants to play with him.
Until last weekend. We were the only people on the beach. We did an extra check for the big labrador that seems to live there. Nope, all empty. It was time.
We let Jake off the lead.
His inner greyhound appeared. Faced with wind and sand and sea and emptiness, Jake took off, and we gaped in awe.
Our bundle of smelly fur was a sleek racing machine. All four limbs flat out in the air, he sped along the shore, into the distance. A brief pause. A look behind to see where the slow two legged creatures were, and away again.
It was glorious, and we were glad.