Is this the challenge, then,
as older age begins to settle in:
to be fully present to the precious
and fluctuating here and now
while bearing witness to the past
that lives and breathes inside you?
to be cradling always, one in each hand,
two things that cannot co-exist?
as you relish the magic keyboard
that sends your words across the world,
to recall that lost gesture of feeding
a sheet of paper into a typewriter?
to say something about a time
and place that disappeared?

With thanks for both the sentiment and the typewriter image to the wonderful Spanish writer Antonio Muñoz Molina.

photo by Jean Morris described in poem

Skylight, pale light
rains softly on the red silk roses
and the complicated chandeliers,

the turquoise-blue mosaic
and the pale mural where
a pale, veiled woman sits beneath a vine.

This is pretend Morocco, theme-park
Morocco, but gentle and understated,
in the best of taste, like the food
that alludes politely to north Africa –

merguez and hummus and mint tea
on an old brass tray that glints and rocks,
harissa careful to be not
too hot.

me and the beagles

On Saturday, I was invited to join a sort of huntless hunt in the wilds of darkest England. The local beagle club assembled next to the barn on a big estate belonging to a member of the titled aristocracy who had given permission for us to ramble over hill and dale, following a well-trained pack of beagles who were in turn following a scent trail laid down the day before. This is known as beagling. Since the actual hunting of hares with beagles was banned in 2004, this is the best that the beagle clubs can do. I’ve always been wary of sports with too many rules and I like to walk, so it suited me just fine. (more…)

street art by RUN - face of a person holding a head on a stick

When you wake in the night again
and the temperature’s dropped
and you’re frosted with anxiety

and you reach for unconsciousness,
but it won’t come because someone
started throwing stuff around

in your aching head, pulling out
one ghastly scenario after another
and waving them in your face so

you try instead to summon all the
places you’d rather be, the walks
you dream of taking, the countries you

long to visit, the beloved who, sensing
your distress, would of course leap
out of bed to make you a cup of tea and

you wonder if imagination is a blessing
or a curse and wish your wondering,
wandering mind would just

Photo: mural by RUN, Dulwich Village (detail)