for Michael Morley
I learnt the news by email on a mobile phone –
and now I’m in the air, and far above the words
your ex-wife said in church, you may be gone.
Jevington’s the Ward you’re on – the place
my mother went before they said her mind
was out to grass, so somewhere in the EDG you too
are paused between being here and not.
A bed, a label round your wrist, and tubes
running everything, in and out like breath.
The scent of clinical disinterest and dressings,
and people waiting to be gone.
So who can save you now? Timothy Winters?
Gavin Maxwell? HG Wells? Can Rhyme
or Reason keep that lamp alight?
Recall the grey Novembers in Room 1 with us –
Ridouts banished, and Readers silently in view.
And all those comments in your envied hand,
beneath our own, that blessed, or struggled
to be kind – poised, artful, middle class
– to sum or stem the chaos scratched from every
Osmiroid you made us buy and use.
Each small remembered thing must call
you from oblivion, so let that knowledge
go to battle on your part – give you protection
from the Will you told us Hardy had believed
held everything to its Immanent ends.
Ignore the ice, the smeering worm that slimes
the glass. Keep close all memories that structure
up that life, your past – even the Nazi bomb
that killed your mum when safe in hospital,
the student minds that struggled to outfool you
over Lear, the plays that gathered glory
in the brightness of your stage. You gave
us leave to speak, to act, and chance to write
with no restraint – unlike so many tinpot
sirs, you let us in, became our friend,
and shared thoughts, laughter, and your life.
I’m close to God at 20,000 feet so hear
this almost prayer. Like flight of planes defies
the life of gravity, I pray you can delay
the pull of what must come when all our engines
stop. Let this be the lesson, then. In us you live.
Live on some place we may together go.
And write this final line yourself, when well.
Lovely piece, John – very moving and uplifting. So many superb, original images and lines.