Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Coloured smoke from an invisible fire

Like coloured smoke from an invisible fire, the rhymes beckon us to use them in our poetry. In the same way, the end of the year asks us to retell tales of the past and to come to some sort of reckoning with ourselves. A feeling of sadness overcomes me and I listen to sad songs like Nina Simone's Wild Is the Wind, humming phrases hypnotically to myself - missing bars here and there and fumbling with the words - throughout the day as I sit in the otherwise quiet afternoon drinking glass after glass of wine.

I have always been prone to gravitate to the sad songs anyway, like Rodrigo's Concerto de Aranjuez and the Portuguese fado that I discovered in my 20s along with Jacques Brel. I don't know if this brooding quality in me is associated with the aggression I also used to find in myself. I don't know if it was something to do with these things that made her go away. I shall probably never know, and that is part of the punishment for being alive. We are all sad. We all crave a personal God to alleviate our sorrow, and to walk with us through the valleys of the shadow of death. We are all mortal beings.

Part of the sadness at this time of year is due to the fact that this was the time, last year, when I was alone in southeast Queensland having put mum into a nursing home in Sydney. I planned to move to Sydney as well but contractual arrangements made that impossible until February, so I had to wait alone in Queensland while the year petered out and disappeared like a thundercloud. There were none of the usually terrific storms up there at that time, at the beginning of this year, when I was sitting alone in my living room with social media scrolling past my eyes like a soft fall of rain. Or not that I can remember. Who knows if there was? It is like I was the last man alive in the world.

Sadness also comes from the fact that presently I am in a somewhat uninvidious position as my mother's carer, as she moves closer to the point of ultimate dissolution. I feel in a way that I am accompanying her across a dark threshold into another place, from this world to something else. But as the fact attests that I rely more readily on wine than prayer, you can tell I am not religious. I leave to those with better imaginations than mine to think on what a personal God looks like, and feels like. What can that be like? Is it everywhere, like the wind? Is it wild? Does it twist and turn like coloured smoke from an invisible fire?

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