Sunday, 10 April 2016

Self Portrait

I am nothing. I am nowhere.
If I don't open my eyes,
I won't exist.
From my body,
invisible spiral cords
spin through the air
and connect me
to invisible ancestors.
Polish. Armenian. Hungarian.
Noble fighters. Starving refugees.
But I look in the mirror and see
grey hair, too many lines.
Unruly hair, an unruly face.
Too much grey, no spring to be seen,
no new buds evident.
Crowlines at the corners of my eyes.
Crowlines. Crowlands.
Too much, too much of everything.
Moving inexorably towards old age,
while trains cross vast distances, and
if I don't open my eyes, I won't exist.
Loose jowls, Polish jowls,
bringing me back to invisible threads,
and the ties that hold me
in the honourable,
in the heroic,
hold me in the stoic,
hold me as a survivor in this world,
a wanderer on this earth,
even as I plant and work to root.

At sixteen, I was lost, and
at twenty three I rooted myself
in bricks and mortar, but still,
if I don't open my eyes I won't exist.
On Saturdays, I take my son swimming and diving.
On weekdays, I wake early.
Make lunches and breakfasts.
Something different every day.
In my spare time, I write.
Sometimes I work late into the night
to catch up on myself.
I never catch up on myself.
Sometimes I drink wine to escape.
I walk the dog, not often enough.
I feed the chickens and collect the eggs.
My house is not as tidy as it should be.
My hair is not as tidy as it should be.
I pay back my debts. It's the
honourable thing to do.
My pleasures are in small things.
I'm unlikely now to see Columbia,
or the High Atlas Mountains, or Peru.
I long for a silent white room,
with windows that open out onto
a sunny garden, yet the life I create
is relentlessly busy.
I long for my own odyssey.
If I don't open my eyes, I won't exist.

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