I lie awake
An ache like toothache
Will not go away.
Nothing feels as empty as a double bed
With a single sleeper.
Nothing as empty as a solitary life
Where once there had been two.
I rise, dress, prepare to meet the blank day
I set two places for breakfast.
John Milton wrote this sonnet “On His Blindness”. He had daughters to whom he dictated his poems – I sometimes wonder how they felt about spending their time acting as unpaid amanuensis to their father.
When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodg’d with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide;
“Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”
I fondly ask. But Patience to prevent
That murmur, soon replies: “God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts; who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er land and ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait.”
After I had a cataract removal operation I couldn’t resist wrting, not exactly a parody, but a sonnet in the style of Milton about my own experience. I had was plenty of friends telling me what an easy and painless operation it was . (I need larger print!)
On Her Cataract Op
When I consider how much time I’ve spent
Of my allotted three score years and ten
Waiting in hospitals and wondering when
They’ll tell me the prognosis what it meant
In words I understand, so I’m not sent
Adrift in vagueness, neither screen nor pen
Of use. When will I see things clear again?
I ask in terror, life is brief and time but lent.
“Fret not, they tell me, you’ll be find indeed.
Relax, this surgeon is among the best.
The op takes only minutes, there’s no wait
Admittedly, at first it’s hard to read
But soon your eyes will pass the hardest test
Trust me, this new perspective’s really great!”
This was one I made earlier – much earlier – when I attended a creative writing class at Lancaster university.
Make your face up,
make up your eyes,
blend the colours,
paint the skies,
gild the lily until it dies.
Mask with mascara betraying eyes,
lengthen the lashes add to the lies,
brush on the blusher, don the disguise,
put on a brave face, a sage face and wise,
colour the lips but hide the eyes.
Make up stories make up lies
save your face, shut off your eyes.
I’ve time to spare.
to do and dare
I’ve time to share
I brush my hair
What shall I wear?
the forecast’s fair
“Begone dull care”
The Bard once said. Depends
if weight of care
can bring despair
so I don’t dare
to leave my lair
or climb the stair
to reach the rainbow’s end.
I yearn to be
I’ll learn to be
A frantic rush to get away from it all,
snap shut the suitcase lid,
close it down on the daily frustrations,
thinking to escape by keeping on,
moving on, searching for a new place,
new sights, new sounds, new feelings,
till the travel becomes an end in itself.
The journey becomes its own justification.
Its own metaphor for the journey through life.
The mad dash down the motorway,
tantalising wait in traffic jam,
the struggle to escape from thinking
by moving on
never realising – or never admitting –
that it can’t be done.
Water of life, water alive,
Gentle drops fall
Making circles in the lake,
Widening, rippling, stippling the surface
Sinking softly onto soil,
Soaking into earth,
Sending message of renewal,
A gentle baptism of water and spirit,
Washes away darkness
Sin, disease and decay,
Arousing new hope in all it reaches.
But water can also bring
Deluge of death,
Trees, buildings, lives,
Brings chaos, confusion,
Dead bodies in putrefying piles.
How then can we find consolation
In the Lord’s promise of Living Water?