Thursday, 21 June 2012

Jambo Mwana

22:06:00 Posted by Damp incendiary device , , , , , , 3 comments
Living in the now, the present moment; mindfulness - that's the advice for spiritual fulfilment.  So why do we dwell in the past?  Why relive pivotal moments, in various states of re-imagining, going over the details.  We retell our stories, framing our lives and bringing our character into focus each time.  Some stories go round in our heads, a sort of self-speak, circling like birds of prey and reminding us of something crucial or something we've yet to understand. 

My grandad tells his stories again and again and again.  Stories of his part in the war for the most part.  Occasionally he speaks of his first wife who died young.  Sometimes he speaks about fishing.  Mostly though, he goes over what he saw and what he did during the war.  Many of the stories aren't pleasant but that doesn't stop him bringing them up at parties.  Round and round and round the stories go.  I think it's because there are some actions that you can't justify, can't make peace with.  You can tell those stories again and again but some events are so dark that they scar your consciousness permanently, rendering you unable to live in the moment, always drawing you back to the past. 

Today I visited my grandad, along with two of my sisters.  He told us several stories, moving between fantasy and reality, dwelling in a liminal space between civilization and the wildnerness.  We tried to steer him away from the darkness and into some memories which we could handle.  The poem below reflects one such story.

Visiting Grandad

"You saw a giraffe in the road once, right?"
Wild eyebrow's hooked, a glint of something lost.
"It was hard to see in the thick twilight
At first we thought we were seeing a post.

By the side of the road, so tall and straight.
Kenyan night creeping in like hyenas
Our truck throwing up a cloud in our wake
Soldiers' eyes struggle in lush arenas

Lions watching with their eyes like emeralds
Flies whining at the scent of sweating pores
Whistling Thorn speaks to strangers of reverance
Grasses boast mambas and jackals and boars.

Giraffes still surprise, alone by the road.
Were you there?" "No, it's a story you told."


Ashley R Lister said...

It must be heartbreaking to have a catalogue of rich memories and to be losing the index pages that sort them into the right order.

Touching post.


Jo Michaels said...

Very moving story. WRITE ON.

Lara Clayton said...

Vicky, I loved this poem. It feels new and original, but with a degree of clarity that makes it feel familiar.
Strangely, I've been working on a very similar themed poem about a lady I met who is suffering from dementia. Her present is bity and fading, but sections of her past - memories preserved within silver picture frames - are sharp and perfectly remembered... Like these are the moments she is trying not to forget.
Great post and a beautiful, moving poem!

Lar x