Posts Tagged ‘grief’

the keening

pouring out of me
like song — my limitless grief
exceeds what I know
— a deep, spiritual love
possessing me completely

An extraordinary dream in which I was weeping for the death of a colleague. What an emotionless person I must be in real life, for such richness of emotion as in this dream, to feel so unfamiliar and unwonted! Actually back in the eighties I wept just like this a couple of times when I was very drunk. The colleague who was dead in the dream, figured in a similar dream a couple of years ago, where she was dead because I had been complicit in her murder. In waking life, I told her about that dream and she was quite upset to have been told, and it caused a certain degree of friction between us for a day or two. I guess I can be insensitive. I lack imagination sometimes, to envisage other people’s emotions. Or indeed my own. The word ‘keening’ was a late addition to my vocabulary. I like the dignity of it. I had never heard the word until I was in my forties. I just looked up its origin: it’s from the Irish caoinim ‘I wail’.


crazy ugly

geriatric sex —
I accept the craziness
— desire was always
crazy — right from the very
beginning of existence

I woke desperate for orgasm, having been dreaming of sex with an older woman — or indeed — an ancient woman. She was living quite alone in an attic room, accessed by clambering a quaint wooden staircase. My interest in her as a person seemed to focus on the idea that she had been a singer (an unfulfilled ambition of my mother’s in real life). I did feel a lot of interest in her as a person, quite apart from the crazy sexual attraction I was experiencing in the dream. I don’t suppose this link will remain live for very many weeks, but it’s a brilliant review by Adam Mars-Jones, of a book about grieving. I sent it to my sister yesterday, as being relevant to our current struggles to process my mother’s decline into possible dementia, and drawing her attention particularly to the last couple of paragraphs about Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, where Mars-Jones refers to Kubler-Ross as ‘the madwoman in the attic’. A reference of course to Jane Eyre‘s Mrs Rochester. But also quite possibly to Jean Rhys’s The Wide Sargasso Sea — a book I still have never read though I must — which retells Jane Eyre from Mrs Rochester’s point of view. Have also realised a probable source for the dream in yesterday’s events — a book by the poet C.K.Williams called Misgivings which I’m currently reading. It’s an autobiography. But it’s mostly a terribly subjective and detailed account of his feelings towards his parents. And there was a brief passage I read last night describing an early, Oedipal, memory of seeing his mother naked:

I’m in a room with my mother. I’m looking not up but straight across at her, so I must be standing, perhaps in a crib. My mother is next to a window; I watch her, though she doesn’t know that I do. A block of yellow sunlight fills part of the room, and when it touches my mother — she’s naked, or partly naked — it turns golden, and then the whole room is glowingly golden. I’m acutely aware of my mother’s body, especially her breasts; surely I’ve seen her breasts before — she nursed me for some weeks — but never with the appalled half-furtiveness with which I behold them now. I seemed to have experienced beauty and shyness and shame all in the same intake of breath.


after all the grief
has been wept — what remains is
an empty vessel

Music. Money. Relationships. These were the themes which I could have used in order to make a poem this morning out of my dreams last night. But this poem came instead. I’ve no idea where from. Maybe because a colleague confessed to me yesterday that she had managed to lose £450 cash. Was she looking to me for comfort? Is this poem my way of offering her the comfort I was unable to offer her yesterday? This would make sense. I woke thinking about a girl I used to know in the seventies. I thought to myself ‘I loved her’, which was a complete surprise to me, forty years after the event. Maybe that kind of love is safe enough to be thought of in relation to the colleague at work yesterday. There are so many different kinds of love. Love is such a scary word.