Reflect

He’ll ponder,

She’ll reflect,

They’ll wonder,

May inspect

Lost moments

Of neglect.

Words used

Deject.

Time passing

Will respect,

Perceptions

Can deflect,

Transgressions

Must reject,

Apologies

Now abject.

New beginnings

We expect,

Renewed life

Takes effect,

Comprehension

Perfect.

Unbidden

I forget sometimes.

Where I’ve put what,

Why I’m here in this room.

I go back out to where I began,

Remember.

Then I resume

 

To get on with what’s what,

Make a list of whatnot,

Take it with me so I won’t forget

To buy what is needed

For life to go on,

Still something will be missing, you bet.

 

I’ll try to recall

Why something is irking,

Just what I’ve forgotten to do,

Then thoughts will return,

I’ll be back in this room

And remember all about you.

 

Some things I forget,

The ordinary of life,

Minutiae, out of my mind.

Sublimate others, try to forget,

Resolve not to list,

Some peace so to find.

 

Ageing, my dear,

Is that what this is,

A memory all too long past?

Or does time play tricks on

What felt so real

But never was destined to last?

 

A scary confusion,

Life battered,

Illusion,

Dimly lit

Portraits of prior,

Acknowledged

In memories,

Never forgotten,

Resurface unbidden,

Conspire

To addle the brain

Live history again,

Rejuggle the words,

Recognise the absurd,

Fantasies gleaned from before.

Yesterday’s days

Should remain just a haze,

A myth, merely folklore.

 

Forgetting’s an art

Not an accident, no,

A deliberate longing for peace.

To recall unwittingly

Is torment for sure,

Destined to know no surcease.

 

So lists all in hand,

We jot what we need

To enjoy the now, day to day.

Rip up the old,

Discard what is gone,

Smile and go on, come what may.

Marked, For One

If memories stir and salt this season,

Visceral reaction subverts all reason;

Pleading quietly in my brain,

To quell such love, so self-restrain.

Regressive journeys, known to mar,

Mistakes we make cause wounds that scar.

But heart and soul are so combined

Pounding, beating in my mind.

That once scorched heart has been refined,

All men I see leave me quite blind.

I’m marked, for one, by lesions.

Thought I would give it a go.  🙂

Lilsawarian Dectet

http://5degreesofinspiration.wordpress.com/2013/08/09/lilsawarian-dectet/

End of an Era

My old primary school is being demolished this summer. A new, purpose-built, hi-tech, all-singing, all-dancing structure will take its place. It will have all the mod cons – interactive white boards, projectors, dedicated IT suite, an elevator, disabled facilities. You name it, it will have it.

I don’t know that it will last as long as the current, yet-to-be-demolished version. This particular edifice has been standing for around a hundred years. My dad went to it, my brothers and sisters and I went to it, my children have all gone to it. Two of them are currently there today. My youngest still has five years to go there.

It’s quite an ugly building. It was built over three levels and constructed of blonde sandstone. It looks like a giant cuboid standing on one of its smaller sides. It has mesh on most of the windows to prevent break-ins and vandalism. It looks like a prison. And I am sure there have been plenty of children who have gone through its doors and felt that it was exactly that.

But I have some fabulous memories of my time there. I met my favourite teacher of all time there. I had the pleasure of being in the Primary seven class of this young (then) woman who just ‘got’ kids. You knew that she understood every one of us. She was patient and kind and had a fabulous way of putting her lessons across. She made everything worthwhile learning. It was in her class that I fell in love with Greece and its myths and legends. It was in her class that I realised that, even although I was quiet, I was noticed. She inspired me to give of my best. I worked my tail off for her approval. And I loved it. I blossomed.

I later did a teaching practice in the school myself as a student and she was still there. I was still in awe of her. I even posted a little note through her door at the end of teaching practice to tell her what an inspiration and fabulous teacher she had been. I was still too shy to say it face to face.

She retired some years ago and I still think of her. She never married. Teaching had been her life.

Thank you, Miss B.

It was in this school that I first did any acting. Well, if you can call it that. One of the teachers was particularly talented at art and music. He put on some mean performances. He wrote lyrics to classical pieces and had us all singing our hearts out on stage and feeling that the Oscars were just around the corner. He should probably have taught music in the secondary school. So, Mr. W, thanks for the memories.

One other teacher in my third or fourth year there was so old-fashioned. She used to wear an orange checked overall to protect her clothes from chalk dust. She had the girls curtseying and the boys saluting during a particular topic. I think it must have been ‘The Victorians’. We loved it.

‘Good Morning, Miss B.’ Curtsey. Salute. Such fun.

My first year in the school I was in a class that had an open coal fire. And a rocking horse. I so wanted a shot on that horse but pushier children always got there first. Sods! We practised our letters on small chalk boards and worked out number bonds with Cuisenaire rods. God, I sound like 120.

Parts of the school have terracotta coloured ceramic tiles covering the walls. These are to be removed and used to make a mosaic. Primary seven children will do this. So one of my daughters will be doing this as a last act before leaving for secondary.

Tonight there’s to be an open evening and a Mass to celebrate the end of an era.

My sister’s hosting a little after party too so there will most likely be a few sherbets and some tears.

Two days until the end of term and this school closes forever. To be flattened to the ground. But the memories will live on.

Cheers!

Sunday Up The Braes

Sunday comes.

We fetch our summer buckets; gaily coloured, red, blue, yellow and green. In a while, the plastic pails will hold Autumn’s fruits. Dad holds hands with one or other of us, alternating as each child takes a turn to race ahead. We skip along, stopping to check the hedgerows, trying to spot the nests that are hidden there. And, when we do, a proud cry goes up.

‘I’ve found one!’

We count the eggs but do not touch. We have been warned. None of us wants to be responsible for the mother bird’s non-return. Dad’s previous instructions are always bidden; his wisdom heeded, if not always completely understood.

We examine the markings on the eggs and note their colour. Dad identifies them. Sometimes we are proud to remember their names from earlier lessons. We scan the skies for the parents and wait quietly some way off to see if any bird spotted will return to the nest while we watch.

‘They never go too far away,’ says Dad. ‘They protect their young.’

The air is fresh and there is a crispness that makes it pleasant to take deep breaths.

‘Breathe deeply,’ says Dad, ‘in through your nose and out through your mouth. It’s good for you.’

We all inhale deeply and the smell of manure sails down tubes to eager lungs. Two or three deep breaths render us dizzy. One of us starts to turn in circles, arms outstretched, going madly round; adding in a fun way to the light-headedness of the moment.

In a twirl of excitement, we reach the woods and our first activity is to retrieve our home-made swing; hidden in the undergrowth on a previous week. We always expect someone else to have found it. We are always pleased to discover that they have not.

Dad ties the long rope to one of our favourite trees. Legs astride the swing’s strong branch, we take turns. We throw our heads back laughing, shouting for a turn, laughing in turn. We swing back and forth and round and round; sometimes pushing, sometimes being pushed. We swing until the fun in doing so is exhausted. The moment of completeness coincides with Dad calling on us. It is time to light the fire.

Collecting twigs is a competition. Are they dry? Will they burn? I’ve brought most. Look at me. I’ve done well. Dad’s praises are limited, directed and precise.

He smokes his pipe and leans against a suitable-sized rock; his legs outstretched to the fire we are preparing. We place the kindling in the middle of the stones already selected and positioned in a neat circle. Dad has previously shown us how to light a fire. Little bits of dried grass catch the flame, while gentle blowing helps it along. Soon the twigs burn and the smell …….I remember it still.

 

Every time I smell wood burn, I think of Dad and those days up the braes. Childish feet walking to a known destination where freedom, fun and adventure unfolded under Dad’s sparse but timely advices.

How I wanted one of the penknives my brothers used, to whittle little twigs to pointed ends that then pierced the potatoes Dad always magicked from hidden pockets.

We roasted those potatoes on our little fire. The boys, who were older, were permitted to turn them with their pointed sticks while my sister and I enviously watched this grown-up activity and wondered when our moment would come.

The potatoes burned nicely on the outside while eventually softened enough inside to eat with tentative fingers. We slugged milk, bought for pennies from the nearby farm. Creamy milk and hot potatoes hit stomachs only aware of hunger pangs when the activity stopped. No thought was given to whether the milk had been pasteurised or not or whose germs we shared in the communal drinking.

Sometimes Dad brought his billy-can and we shared sips of his tea, made from boiling water pilfered from a cattle trough. I was afraid of the cows, sure that they resented my unsuccessful forays at their watering hole. On more than one occasion I had to be rescued by one brother or other. While I stood transfixed by a mucous-laden cow, one of them would fetch the water, patronisingly reassuring me that the cow would not hurt me.

Even after eating, the day was still not over. My brothers carved their names in a broken-down tree, alongside an earlier week’s initials. The tree was our friend and plaything. Lying on its side, from whatever disaster had befallen it; its roots were exposed in a spreading mass. Sufficient exertion on our parts raised its purpose to a magnificent see-saw. Living trees were forbidden us. Nothing else was. There was only one rule. Do not hurt anything. That one rule enfolded us and all of nature in a protective embrace. And so we played freely.

We jumped burns, found special stones and leaves and spread all our treasures out for Dad’s perusal and identification. We only partly took in his words; understanding to follow at another time.

We scattered soil onto the dwindled fire to completely extinguish its living flame. We hid the swing again. Penknives were already closed and we trod the homeward journey.

Now birds were warming eggs in nests already spotted and not. Our bramble buckets were half-empty, the contents already mostly consumed earlier in the day. Dessert before dinner. Etiquette unbound. No silly rules to be observed. Just one rule; respecting the natural order of life. And that one was strict.

Dad’s walks up the braes were an adventure, giving Mum a break with younger siblings only to be attended to. The dinner she had prepared was always eaten with less relish than her efforts deserved. Stomachs full of brambles, potatoes and milk could not enthuse. Eventually Mum learned to abandon the Sunday dinner rule on such days. A plate of home-made soup was more than sufficient.

Faces rosy. Hands dirty. Smiles wide. Sunday bath-time followed.