Six Sonnets on Being Disabled
Written in a burst in one day, over a year before I finally received my diagnosis of Primary Progressive MS. I was already in a wheelchair and pretty confused about what might be the matter with me.
So Seamus Heaney’s Died and Deeply Mourned
So Seamus Heaney’s died and deeply mourned
(I read it in the Guardian) by all.
Seems odd, for poetry is often scorned
As ‘something that you had to do in school’.
But presidents and politicians came
To Donnybrook in Dublin yesterday
(And hundreds more of less familiar name!)
To see the Nobel Laureate on his way.
And here’s the thing, I took it as a sign
As, over breakfast, I consumed this news,
The keys to creativity are mine
And poetry is something all can do.
His final words a text= and what it said-
“Noli timore” – don’t be afraid.
Now I Shall Never Stand Upon a Peak
Now I shall never stand upon a peak,
A summit, in the free flown biting breeze,
My own breath falt’ring, little left to speak,
The climb achieved, the aching lungs and knees.
I’ll never see again the silver lakes,
And hills receding, lightening of hue,
The scene revolving as the circle makes
The full three-sixty, clear all round the view.
But in my mind I hear the Herdwick sheep,
The meadow pipit, parachuting down,
And sliding rock as someone climbs the steep,
The last, ascending scree to reach the crown.
And I have been there once: I know the thrill,
The sense that all the world is standing still.
I Used To Do Athletics For My School
I used to do athletics for my school,
Then a three year student interlude
Before I joined a team to play football,
Sundays, usually hung-over and well stewed.
My thirties took me to the cricket field,
Nothing more than running twos or threes,
And once I ran a marathon (well truth
To tell, half-marathon) and wrecked my knees.
I watch the superstars of sport today
And wonder if they realise at all
The brevity of all the skill that they
Are blessed with, and how soon the fall.
I love them for their strength beyond compare,
My surrogates- you see, that’s me out there.
I Can’t Be Up and Doing Now
“I can’t be up and doing now”, I say
And contradict the friends who say I can.
I mourn the loss of one who’s had his day
And seems to me to be the better man.
I move just when I must, with tears and sighs,
I sit most days for hours in my chair:
I think, I read, I dream, I doze, devise
The ways that I might circumvent despair.
And here’s a way I’ve found to find some ease,
A recommended cure for melan chole
No ink or quill, the tapping laptop keys
A way to heal the heart and soothe the soul.
For writing is a form of therapy
And dreams are effortless, ideas are free.
A Redstart Has Appeared
(on reading ‘Birds in a Cage’)
A redstart has appeared, and sings its song.
A fellow stands and watches, to admire
The colour and the way it flits along
Until the bird skits off beyond the wire.
This bloke, who studied birds in Germany,
Recorded notes and sketches every night
So long ago in nineteen forty-three-
I feel for him and recognise his plight.
Despite the birding studies in the wood
He dreams of going home to find his life,
And shaking off the nightmare’s fumes for good,
And making friends againwith his dear wife.
Though dreams of going back will be denied
I’m better off, my wife is by my side.
I’m grumpy. I’m a rotten bedmate, me.
I wallow in self-pity and I weep.
I tug and haul the duvet to get free,
Disturbing Ruth as she tries hard to sleep.
I wake her up to help me to the loo,
And wake her up again when I am done.
She’s just got off to sleep, but I’m not through-
I need her help to settle. I’m no fun.
But in the morning, singing round the place
And chatting to the hungry tabby cat
The irritation’s vanished without trace;
She’s granted absolution, and that’s that.
‘Some tea’, she says, ‘Now drink it while it’s hot’.
The night has disappeared, the love has not.