Memories Of Ben Poem by Roger Hudson

Memories Of Ben



No answer is straightforward.
Talk to a younger Ben
And a tale of a childhood event
Or not so childhood event
Is likely to spin off at a tangent
And a tangent of a tangent
To take in sub-stories, people, places
Known long ago
Until by strange meanderings
A process of wonder
Brings him back to the point
Set out for many minutes ago
A process reflected in many a short story

That mighty photographic memory
That could read a long poem once
And immediately
Word for word
Recite it back
Hold it in his head
For recall in snippets long and short
Illustrating
Decorating
His tales
Spoken or written
That once photographic memory is failing

They are memories of memories now
Or memories of how he has told the anecdote
Many times before
To other friends
Other interviewers

Ask the right question
And he can still
Pull an anecdote, a narrative

Out of the treasure chest
Of his aging brain
But now the detail
May be uncertain

Was it 18,000 or 30,000 words
He had to cut his first story down to
To win publication,
That man with the dogs
He met while walking in Kerry
Was that Francis or Eamonn Gilligan
And what was it exactly Brendan Behan said
When they…
Sometimes it does that
Comes to a halt
Ending forgotten
Prompting is difficult
With Ben's hearing going too
And in his obstinacy declining the aid
Of hearing aid
Pleading discomfort
So refusing himself
The pleasure of chatting company
So important
Throughout his life
In bars, office and home

Alone in his chosen silence
He replays the fragments of memories
In an ever-changing kaleidoscope
Of past pleasures and pains
Knowing that most of the friends
Players in his life long story
Those people in his head
Clamouring for his attention
Have gone long ago
Yet smiling and nodding
At his visitors
As though he hears them
Still the gentleman
Still the charming host
As he raises his glass unsteadily
In two hands
To drink to us

Sunday, December 24, 2017
Topic(s) of this poem: deafness,fame,life,remembrance
POET'S NOTES ABOUT THE POEM
In 2001 and 2002, I interviewed Benedict Kiely the veteran author of many novels and short stories, for a TV documentary "Wordweaver". Over the following few years, his physical condition changed but not the warm welcoming personality.
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