Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Move on

I would like to mourn with elephants who remember their dead
while on the move, and do not tell each other what to feel....
Please don’t tell me what to feel.
“You must move on”,
is honked at me.  
Move on where? I'm immobilised.
There is no on.
I do not see their horizon;
only black and grey whirling
round my head and feet,
dark space full of violence.

Do they mean
Deny the dead beloved ever lived?
Throw them out because they’re not perennial?
Fix affection on someone new, I’m told,
like a parasite creeping up new host.

soul by Martin Huebscher Photography
Please don’t ask how the dying are
unless you really care.
Empathy has a shelf-life,
like a therapist’s milk
gone sour.
After first act of drama,
long-term illness becomes
Credit’s lost condoling, “Ah!
The Silent Killer”
before anyone’s died,
if next year you heartlessly sneer
when asked to account
by the Still Alive
for carelessly breaking
landlord's duty of care.
These supercilious, judgmental types,
window-makers into other people’s souls,
never think they are being seen right through.

Someone else thinks I’m disobliging:
“Can’t your father look after her instead?”
Is demanded with asperity
When I don’t fit in their diary.
Adult mistaking father-figure
For domestic fixture
Dumbfounds me.
I found out when I was eleven
that a parent is not a given.
I do not believe in household gods -
though I heard a banshee
knock a mirror off the wall,
saw vase and candlesticks
spewed like lava on my bed.
(No fear of that: only mice and rats
that scurry shitting whipping evil tails.)

After the funeral - and that’s a farce,
business numbers swopped at the bar,
undertakers flirting at lych gate,
most expensive handbag competition,
who loved her most award -
people need you to move on.
Time that heals everything is too slow
for our clocks today.
After three months, they get impatient.

Grief is now a stigma, my badge of shame
Move on means I think Snap Out Of It.
“You should be over it by now”
as if regret for whom you love is a short trip
across borders strictly controlled.
Tainted, you’re an unwanted stain
at the back of other people’s minds,
unlucky, tedious, untouchable.
(“Her husband died a year ago; it’s time
she stopped going on about it”)
Not to be outcast,
you pretend you’re getting better,
try to hide the anti-social haunting inside.

Modern manners demand sublimation.
We pay to weep for Hecuba,
mother turned into howling dog,
or beat breasts for celebrity we've never met,
but must not feel the suffering of our loves
after they are dead.
They are now a fiction too;
absence less felt than phantom limbs.
I would like to mourn with elephants
Who remember their dead
while on the move
and do not tell each other what to feel.

Missing and regretting and loving
beyond recall is a hunger
never fed, a tapeworm that will not die,
a sickness and a ravenous ulcer.
What you are and how you love
photo by Pippa Rathborne
is in your gut, the first centre
of our feeling,
our oldest brain.

I try to replant the yearning garden
but sweet flowers do not grow soon
in bitter soil and acid rain.
I want to scream I NEED TIME.
A wise man tells me, “It’ll take five years”.
I cannot see the end.