For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Monday, 1 October 2012

writ in water

just as you are taking a shower for the ten thousandth five hundredth and forty-first time
and getting in your little car to go to your little work
and caressing your computer with something quite honestly like sexual desire
the years finally catch up with you and then overtake you
disappearing into the ocean of the future leaving a history in their wake
that is not your history but anyway you are far too busy doing nothing to notice
the ripples and wavelets in the water striving to settle into some recognisable if obscure pattern
too busy eyeing up the menu in the indo-european takeaway
arguing with your wife or husband or son or daughter about the state of the country or the bedrooms
watching a small moving screen which you control with aching wrist and fingers and heart
so busy standing still without realising you are standing still
that the art and religion and geography and history of your own history
your own unexciting but significant-because-it-belongs-to-you history
vanishes as you turn the other way while undressing to protect your modesty
gurgles anti-clockwise down the plughole of your bath as you climb out of your bath
at the end of this unexceptional day or week or month or year or decade of your life

10 comments:

George said...

i like this poem a great deal, Robert, though I really don't know what to say except that it strikes me as an honest discussion of what happens to many of us if we are fortunate enough to live more than two score and ten years. We are moving through the years as routinely as we always have, and yet, increasingly, there are these flashes of awareness that something—perhaps years and history, perhaps something more—is catching up with us, overtaking us, requiring that we look more closely at what we have been and not been. And there is also this dilemma of trying to reconcile those parts of our lives that seem routine, unexciting, or unexceptional with our instinctive belief that our lives and our histories are always indisputably significant at a core level because every life is individually created and unique. Perhaps what I like best in your poem is the recognition that we are eventually compelled to become an objective witness to the unfolding of our lives, even if the witnessing comes late as an act of memory and reflection.

Rubye Jack said...

Very nice Robert! Hopefully, it's not too late to slow down and smell the roses and forget meaning.

Ruth said...

This really is evocative, Robert.

Museum going comes to mind. The museum of self that one never goes to, because it might be too painful to walk slowly enough through the gallery and give close attention to details. The museum of the interior landmarks of one's life. Maybe the treadmill would not be so dull if more of us would pay greater attention and follow our hearts, not just someone else's mind.

Dr Mandeep Khanuja said...

just what i wished i cud say....now

Dominic Rivron said...

By my calculations that makes you significantly more hygienic than me. :)

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks for all your comments. And Dominic — I just feel so damn clean!

Goat said...

By God, it's like you've been watching me!

In my defence (the part about the computer), it IS a MacBook Pro! I mean, come on, you can't say YOU wouldn't be tempted!

The Solitary Walker said...

You are being watched, Goat... so be good!

I have an iMac myself, and I'm tempted every day...

dritanje said...

Very moving and evocative poem. The poem-person making a gesture perhaps in the direction of 'measuring out my life in coffee spoons' yet I feel he/she is more aware than they might appear to be....

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks, dritanje. Yes, I think you're right — that there's a kind of meta-Prufrockian thing going on here!