Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Tuesday Poem: Curtains by Helen Rickerby

I believe my parents are immortal
They will live forever
in the same house
they have lived in
for the whole of my life
they will stay
at the end
of a phoneline
answer when I call
to ask them questions
to which they will always
know the answers

I believe my parents will never get sick
I mean of course
that they might get
the odd cold maybe
a stomach bug once
in a while but they will always
be able to walk further
and faster
than I can
they'll never be slowed
or stymied by dodgy
hips or feet or hearts

I believe my parents will always be able to look after themselves
They'll stay in the house
up the long steep driveway
with their lifetime of treasures
they'll eat what they like
go to sleep and wake up
as late as they want

I believe my parents will always be together
like a pair of curtains
that overlap
at their edges

First of all - it's the 3rd birthday of the Tuesday Poem! Three years we've been going with Claire Beynon (Dunedin) and me curating. What a ride it's been! So many many poems, so many many poets. As with other years we're celebrating with a communal poem which has already started and goes over three weeks. Do check it out.

Now, I promised my blog readers Curtains last week when I posted Just Fine to celebrate my 25th wedding anniversary. I explained I'd been casting around for the ideal poem and that Curtains leapt into view - or rather, opened in front of me. But then I found my way into an old file of poems and there it was:  Just Fine. A low-key poem about an ordinary family Saturday, my ordinary family Saturday, and it did the job, and I posted it.

I saved Curtains (My Iron Spine, Headworx 2008) for this week, and people have been asking...

Curtains is a poem about the everydayness and longevity of love -- love in a relationship (of 25 years or more or less), love we have for our parents, and they for each other. There is the feel of a fairytale about it. The house with the steep driveway and treasures evokes a castle to me - and there is immortality here and a type of perfection and an absence of rules. But the curtains are vintage rule-bound time-locked imperfect suburbia!

I love the line: 'like a pair of curtains that overlap at their edges.' It evokes the way people who are together for a while lose their edges, and how they hang out day and night (what better than curtains to show clearly when it's night and day). 'Overlap at their edges' also brings to my mind lapping in a running race and water lapping, both of which feel like the stuff of long term relationships.

Now my silver wedding has come and gone, I dedicate this poem to my parents, of whom I believe the same.

Curtains is published with permission (thanks Helen!)

Helen Rickerby is a Tuesday Poet, publisher at Seraph Press, and co-managing editor of the JAAM literary journal. She also has a cool day job working on the Encyclopaedia of NZ Te Ara. Abstract Internal Furniture, was published by HeadworX in 2001 and her second collection, My Iron Spine, followed in 2008. More on Helen  on last week's blog and another poem from My Iron Spine, here


Michelle Elvy said...

Oh wonderful! So glad you posted this here this week, as I was looking forward to seeing this poem after you mentioned it last week. What a beautiful thing, so full of emotion and yet avoiding over-sentimentality. A determined voice, and delicate in all the right places. This resonates and I'll keep it with me this week, as I'm thinking of my father in his declining state -- something we never expect, until it comes. A lovely gift, this poem.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful poem! Gave me quite a lump in my throat. Happy birthday, Tuesday Poem!

Helen Lehndorf

maggie@at-the-bay.com said...

Beautiful and I do love the idea of overlapping curtains - I think I'm one half of an overlapping curtain myself - it makes old age sound quite romantic after all.