Leaving Eden


No whence or whither in this early memory,
just its bright singular presence.
Why has it stayed with me?
Is it a clue to what dragged me into thought?
If feeling and thinking are held there in one kernel
can I prise them apart?
It must date from a time
when noises and single words did the work of sentences,
accompanied now and then by flailing arms.
Luckily mother was there to respond and give meaning,
but from the memory itself she is absent.

I sit beneath a round table, a cloth falling beyond its surface.
Sunlight reaches me through a window looking onto lawn.
In front of me a woman is seated,
head and shoulders hidden by the table’s edge.
There is a heavy, familiar scent.
Her dress is pulled up revealing a suspender and grey stocking
and above it parchment coloured skin.
I look closely.
The expanse is covered with delicate wrinkles.
She pushes the needle of a syringe into her thigh,
and as she does so
a bead of crimson blood appears.
It holds its shape for ever.
The memory ends without a word being spoken or sound made.

I can split the memory in two,
into curiosity and bewilderment.
The curiosity could be expressed as
“What is happening here?”
the bewilderment as
“Am I supposed to be seeing this?”
which further resolves into an uncertainty as between trespass
and a privileged connection with the woman which I don’t understand.

It was our Christmas visit,
she was my grandmother

(Referring back to the the previous post, perhaps the key phrase here is ‘its bright singular presence.’ The feeling of mystery about the preservation of this memory from the age of two and a half has never left me, but it is possible that through revisiting it, I have embellished what I felt then but I hope not. I also wonder if lost memories of intimate moments with my mother are hidden beneath or within this. I should add that my grandmother was an insulin taking diabetic and died before I was three.)

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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: