Varun and Paddy by Caroline Glen
After the Writers’ Meeting quiet footsteps,
and two tall men stand by me, inked paper
in their hands.
No words; just pairs of eyes circling light
and time, flicking down to mine
in brown marbles of uncertainty.
Then the arm, the poem to my hand:
stillness in collision with tension.
Head down, I read brusque lines of bandaged flesh,
white cubicles, tiled corridors,
dressing gowns on chairs,
the bloody smell of hope and fear.
A medical student he explains.
Intensive word care, I say. May I take it,
reread and get back? I fold it to my bag.
I study Paddy’s gift.
His lines ramble and scratch like rows
of thorny bush, stop, square to the sky
then wander in circles of forest pathways.
They carry stars beneath the wings of birds.
Paddy, a child of clouds in wedges of wind.
Nature well communicated I say. May I take it,
get back to you?
I fold it to my bag.
I look at the apple-smooth skins, one dark, one fair,
the devotion, the commitment, thrilling silent
behind the flesh.
What can I, an older woman, sheathed, tied,
knotted with experiences of love and loss,
If I could, I would burn the moment
for their success.
Great, read plenty I say, and smile goodbyes.
I will study the poems tonight, at home,
and in argument with me, the classics and modernism,
email praise and small suggestions.
I leave to tread once more, the grey footpath
Step on step, I wonder if Varun and Paddy,
year competing with year, will moisten, ripen,
roll them with, and around, the stubborn spit of river stones
that sit hard-lipped, muddy-bottomed with problems
and dislodge them.
Caroline Glen © 3/12/11