It will be alright

My friend Helen Burke, a great poet whom I’ve known for almost ten years, sent me her poem, “Cutting Up Suits.” Here are the opening lines:

We sense she is tad upset when
We get back from the pub
And find she is cutting up his suits.
Also, his record collection of 30 years
Smashed in the bin.

Needless to say, the poet is recounting the crumbling end of a relationship – albeit with Helen’s deft humorous touch.  I’ll be happy to email you the poem if you ask me.

Like many poems & writings I come across, these words send themselves right into my heart. I was taken to a memory, an unplanned visit, to a place I’d never been. And not being in a dream but wide awake, I found myself asking little questions about the details of this memory. The answers, not surprising, were sitting like so many cans of peas or soup with flip-top lids ready for me to open.

And, like all of my memories (I won’t presume to speak for you and your memories), some images are dimly lit, some are ridiculously clear. It is my emotions that are often sharp and relentless. They are the words on the soup can label, highlighted – danger, poisonous if eaten raw or savor as a welcome treat.

This memory had the aborted feeling of the unknown. Even now, I wonder how this experience wended its way through time, how the actors played their parts as time let them unfold. I wanted to know. I didn’t want to know.

Send me the synopsis sometime when I’m not looking for comfort – or justice.

Many years ago in a place now far, far away, my husband, Kevin, and I dropped in on his childhood friend.

As far as we knew everything was alright.

But no.
The house was pretty much empty and you could see dust where once there’d been a chair or picture on the wall.

His friend, whom I was first meeting, was sitting like a clay pigeon at the dining room table – alone.
A pitiful lamp shining on his grim outlook.  “Sheila left me, took the kids, most of the stuff.”

We sat at this empty table, empty of how to react except to cry (in that silent, shocked way) for his upended life.

The phone rang – he politely said to us and to himself, “Sorry. Gotta take this.”

We could hear a child’s voice from the phone he carefully brought up to his ear.  It sounded like a young girl who was trying to speak quietly, sniffling.

Our friend seemed to stand up straighter, becoming the dad his little girl expected him to be.  And, with his best, dad-voice, told his daughter it would be alright.

2 thoughts on “It will be alright”

  1. Hi Jan, memories are sharp or fussy, how true. The dad voice that’s some line also looking for comfort or justice .. all of our lives doing this. Much love , me x

  2. I remember it well, and sadly. I know through the years he absorbed the blow and forged ahead and maintained a great relationship with his daughter. We all must do the best we can given life’s little surprises.

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