Grief

So many deaths caused by the corona virus. So many people grieving and also fearful that there may be another wave of deaths as winter approaches.

At first, the realisation of the permanent absence of the loved one keeps breaking in on the habitual awareness of their presence, with a recurring sense of shock and disbelief. Gradually the habitual awareness of their absence is interrupted unpredictably by a vivid sense of their presence. This is experienced as pangs of grief. One of the finest poems to describe this is Wordsworth’s Sonnet “Surprised by Joy’ on the death of his three year old daughter. The first three lines read – ‘Surprised by joy – impatient as the wind/ I turned to share the transport – O! with whom/ But thee deep buried in the silent tomb…’ Doesn’t the ‘O!’ mark the actual pang.

My father died in 2001 and I think of him often. A few months after his death I was walking on the Downs in Bristol, when the sight and sounds of a rugby match called him to mind, and I imagined him as I had never known him although I had seen the team photographs.

THE SCRUM HALF
In memory of my father

It was some months after my father's death
that the penny dropped,
and when it did I smiled.
In the last four years of his life,
spare and fragile,
my father broke the head of his humerus
not once, but on three occasions.
And there on the Downs
hearing the touchline cheers,
it belatedly struck me -
not the Colles' fracture of the thrust out hand,
but down on his shoulder,
curled up as he'd learned to fall
all that lifetime ago
when he played for his school,
scrum half, HG "Mercury" Cook.

Published by davidcookpoet

I am a husband, father and grandfather. I retired from a busy working life as an adult psychiatrist in 2014. My interests are in literature, philosophy, modern jazz and horse racing. I might represent those four fields by Shakespeare, Kant, Charlie Parker and Lester Piggott. Like nearly all of us, I can identify a number of formative experiences, one of which was a psychotic episode in my first year as a psychiatrist. This reinforced an already established interest in mystical experience, and a sense of how little human beings know. My intellectual bugbear is reductive materialism, and I am surprised at the lack of moral imagination of those who promulgate such views. It seems to me they need to consider ,perhaps by exposure, just why totalitarianism is so horrific.

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