Searching for my roots Through old records I pause, ears cocked For my muscle memory Awaiting the right decade Simon and Garfunkel Soothe my silences Leonard Cohen for my Loneliest of nights Lucio Dalla nostalgia Juliette Greco and Piaf For flights of fancy Childhood Winters in Paris With a pianist thumping Square-toed rhythms Ballet port-de-bras Watery arpeggios to mock High arches, pale faces Pink noses and blue lips With Tchaikovsky diluted We shivered on the parquet In a sea of legs and faces Sprung floors and tall mirrors Threw our joint grimace To the feeble footwork Of the adults at the barre Then Fleetwood Mac’s Rhiannon echoes past The jazz records listing To the left of the top shelf And as the sound swells I raise my hands, start to turn Eyes closed, I dance Delighted that for once, Nobody is watching
I hum a mournful tune, sat amid my geranium pots, on a European balcony, years ago. The beauty of the minor key, sweet in its infinite sadness, pleases me, and I feel somehow included in its nocturnal fumblings. I too have known loss, felt pain, loved where none was to be had in return, and in my imperfect cadences, I taste of the sublime. I swing my arms and legs in the warm breeze, perched on the high-backed kitchen chair, its wicker seat creaking under my shifting weight. The sound, as if on a small boat, gently rising and falling with the swell of my melody, prompts me to look up at the stars. Their twinkling pinpricks wink back at me in turn. The cooling tea I slurp and the chink of the mug as it chips against the concrete balustrade remind me that we are fragile, yet fluid. An ever-changing puzzle, shifting from time to time to keep up with the pace of this universal dance. I am in rhythm, and yet out of it. Touched by visions of truth and forms lacking in substance, I drift through my lazy daily routine, pausing to concentrate on such mentally taxing activities as shaving my legs and to admire the fleeting brilliance of newly applied toenail polish.
Oh give me once more my time again
That I might use it better
There’s so much more I would like to do
Not follow the law to the letter
I’d love to dance on a windy shore
Swim naked in the sea
Make passionate love to you once more
Take full-fat milk in my tea.
I never again would refuse to fight
For fear of what I’d lose
But into battle would march – with might
To wound, not just to bruise.
I’d see all colours in their true forms
Not fudge equality
And I’d laugh at any who chose to scorn
The way my life would be.
Yes, give me once more my time again
I know I’ve more to give!
That I might share all the love and the pain
That comes with learning to live.
I long to recapture those halcyon days
Of spirit so wild and free
Where all of the world to me was a maze
And my only loves for thee.
But now I am older and jaded too
No more have I leave to roam.
And like a chattel am bolted down
To job, and hearth, and home.
Oh, how might I relive my days long gone
And change what deeds I could
That I might achieve what I’ve never done
As well as “being good”.
I’d not be so clever – not all of the time
Nor do what I know is right.
But talk back to those who put me down
And stand up to all in a fight.
Show what love I wanted, and share
With those who did not me deserve.
Not tiptoe for fear of igniting those
Whose tempers they should curb.
I’d laugh at the fools and sing to the moon
And dance with my skirts held high.
I’d act to all like a merry loon
Who does not fear to die.
Dancing around the bedroom in my pyjamas I pause to pirouette, feeling the scrape of the carpet, crumb-covered, beneath the ball of my blister-blighted foot, and I am beautiful. Without makeup, without mirrors, with no one to look at me or to stroke my ever-hungry ego, I breathe in the stale, book-dusty air, hear the tinny music of the radio, spy your socks on the floor, and, tutting to myself, march proudly onward to face the morning.
I look to the future and what do I see?
My year-ful of past gazing fondly at me.
I turn on my toes and do an about face,
To find myself staring back at my first place.
But try as I might, twist and turn all my days,
The future will greet me, my mind is a maze.
I see now how vain was my endless display,
To seek out my present and past with one eye.
Yet trained in star-gazing and picking up jokes,
Not learning the nature of time, nor her yokes,
I still on occasion, though valiant my fight,
To catch my own tail, pirouette in the light.