Eighty-two years, but death had sprung early,
well before the demise of her vital
signs, dilated pupils, rigid tissue
and blackened fingertips: whispered rumours
of death had followed her for many years
Her body was fine, mind you: the measure
of pulse, the temper of blood and bone
bore no inkling or hint of the decay
that slowly festered in the mind and slowly
but surely sapped the trove of memory.
It drained its coffers with cruel avarice:
In the end the disease of memory
was all that most people could remember,
not the vivacity of eyes that danced,
the face and the form that once were music –
winsome lyrics now sung in black and white.
The faded photos are a libretto
and score from another time, the portraits
of smiles undiminished by the decades,
her nurse’s cap and uniform, the eyes
so full of promise and spring, expecting
that life and love’s full measure would be hers;
fecund prophecies shone in her wide eyes,
no shadow augured what would lay ahead:
tattered photos are bleached bones of her dreams.
Ada was buried long before her death:
each day was a clang of grave diggers’ spades,
the years like cold earth left no trace of her.
The atrophied mind had swallowed her whole.
Her aging body was a walking tomb.
Those winsome lyrics, in dusty albums,
teased with hope in black and white that life
so vibrant as shone in Ada’s eyes would
in the end trump the strong suit played by death.
Our Lady of the Clubs
Music pulsated in the heavy air
and clubbers jostled in tiers 10 deep
around the Bar,
as at some shrine.
A clutch of blokes
hope for a bit luck
with the ladies there
and stand on the dance floor’s edge,
shirts hanging out
de rigueur club style
jiggling with their pints in hand
in non-committal movements between
bystanders just watching
and dancers caught up in the music,
but to no avail with the women
who spurn them for the rhythm of the dance
Then, there she was.
The swirl of loud chatter,
the wild dancers
the whirl and rage of samsara
like a noisy halo
one oasis of tranquility,
sitting at a table,
nursing a diet coke:
Our Lady of the Club
sat in perfect calm.
© Chris McDermott