After Derek Mahon
Your great mistake is to act the drama
as if you were alone. As if life
were a progressive and cunning crime
with no witness to the tiny hidden
transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny
the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely,
even you, at times, have felt the grand array;
the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding
out your solo voice. You must note
the way the soap dish enables you,
or the window latch grants you freedom.
Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.
The stairs are your mentor of things
to come, the doors have always been there
to frighten you and invite you,
and the tiny speaker in the phone
is your dream-ladder to divinity.
Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into the
conversation. The kettle is singing
even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots
have left their arrogant aloofness and
seen the good in you at last. All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably
themselves. Everything is waiting for you.
I’ve been listening to David Whyte this week, after I’d happened upon him again last weekend. When I was a teenager, my dad gave me a cassette with David speaking his poems, and though I found it a bit strange at first, his halting, repeating, penetrating way of speaking has lodged itself deeply into my psyche during the many hours I listened to that tape. I don’t remember the above poem being one of them but he speaks it in exactly the same way I remember. It felt right for this time of staying at home and perhaps relating to the old familiar things with fresh eyes. What is it like to ‘put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into the conversation’? How can we take up this invitation of everything that is waiting for us, the world that surrounds us? Time to connect in new and different ways perhaps…