Himself in himself

Monday March 31, 2008

“We made it through March, then,” I said.  Just for something to say, you understand.

“Yup.  What are you going to do today?”

“Shopping and a stroll along the riverbank.”

“Good.  I need you out of the way so I can do a deep clean.”

So off I toddled and, when I got home, the house smelled all nice and clean.  Not of air fresheners.  Not of furniture polish.  Not of anything, particularly.  Just clean.

“You’ve done a great job here,” I said.

“Thanks.  You see anything interesting?”

“Might have done but I didn’t notice.”

“Why’s that, then?”

“I was busy thinking.”


It was a day for thinking.  Like poetry, thinking is cheap:

Taylor Street

The small porch of imitation
marble is never sunny, but
outside the front door he
sits on his kitchen chair facing
the street.  In the bent yellowish
face, from under the brim
of a floppy brown hat,
his small eyes watch what
he is not living.  But he
lives what he can:
watches without a smile, with
a certain strain, the warmth
of his big crumpled
body anxiously cupped
by himself in himself, as
he leans over himself not
over the cold railings, un-
moving but carefully getting
a little strength from the sight of the
passers-by.  He has it
all planned:  he will live
here morning by morning.

–Thom Gunn


9 responses to “Himself in himself

  1. “But he lives what he can”…, and it’s still hard work! 🙂

  2. well, good morning then John!

  3. Morning, each. Don’t work too hard!

  4. I felt myself crumpling as the lines tumbled down there. Highly evocative.

  5. That is one beautiful poem. Kind of sums up old age doesn’t it?

  6. Beautiful prose, John. As always.

    There’s certainly something to be said for being able to go for a walk and not have to pay particular attention to what’s going on around you.

  7. “the house smelled all nice and clean. Not of air fresheners. Not of furniture polish. Not of anything, particularly. Just clean.”


    Open windows on a sunny spring day.

    Not air sprays nor scented candles nor little chemical factories plugged into an electric outlet… just clean.

  8. Nobody has ever said that to me :

    “I need you out of the way so I can do a deep clean.”

    Nope, my brain can’t cope with that 😀

  9. One hell of a writer and a great poem. Stumbled on your blog by accident and am so impressed by your resolve to keep it up as most online journals cease after a couple of months or years. Lovely to find something like this…

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