Still There

She’s still there, thirty years on,
Smiling and glinting from the mother o’ pearl fretboard inlays
Of my 21st birthday Ibanez Vintage acoustic guitar:
Though gone twenty-five summer seasons now - my mum.

Auntie Alwyn’s contagious, heart-as-big-as-a-cabbage eccentricity
Running deep in our refectory table grain
And in the comfortable, convivial creak of chairs
Drawn up daily by family and friends
To eat the meat and chew the fat.

Nell’s open-featured, rosy round face,
Stroke-riven arm crooked rigid to her chest,
Her voice’s criminally constricted, yet infinitely expressive vocabulary
Of: “Aye me” and “’Tanley”
Echoing warm and tender down a lifetime of lost years
As I stroke the name she wrote (when she could still write)
In the flyleaf of her copy of Emerson’s Essays
That now occupies pride of place on my bedside shelf.

Liz’s grit, guts and dogged, ever-so-slightly cantankerous determination
Ringing in the memory of every turn and twist
That Tuscan country roads could offer
And in the impossible range of tones of green
In landscapes that have to be tasted
As much as seen to be believed
And sparkling in the wedding ring of white diamond fire
Reflected and refracted like rainbows in my Ellen’s eyes.

Granddads’ World War 1 chocolate boxes
[their contents long gone but for the faintest whiff of Woodbine],
Their brass bumped and bruised
From almost a hundred years of battle
In the trenches and in the hands of kids and grandkids,
Now resplendent records and reminders of the valour
And cussed sense of survival
Which came home against the odds
And cast the family tree forward to you and me.

The half-hunter and chain
Ever setting off all the airport metal-detectors
Giving you the opportunity of showing and sharing the pleasure
Of feeling the Waltham weigh its solid-silver, Empire quality in your palm
Gently ticking your father’s time from past into present.

They’re there.
All there.
Still there.

One day, when I’ve long gone over ‘there’...
I wonder if I’ll be found by those still here.

READ THIS POEM IN OTHER LANGUAGES
COMMENTS OF THE POEM
Kevin Wells 16 August 2008

Hi Tony Kim and Viola have left me bereft of anything to say... except that I agree with everything they say! ! !

0 0 Reply
Viola Grey 16 August 2008

I always love that reading one of your poems is like living through the lines...you can see clearly what you are describing and it's like peeking into a memory that belongs to someone else...I loved the stanza about the pocketwatch...so meaningful....great work.

0 0 Reply