Days of rioting when living with edginess and anxiety feels as if this is just how we get through the day. An 11-year-old girl blinded in one eye by a rubber bullet. Day clinics closed ( for the suffering community this means no insulin, no blood pressure meds, no way to rehydrate small children with diarrhoea, no nurses, no doctors), attacks on police stations. And the summer as lovely as ever, hot sunshine and flowering hedges, trees bronzing and darkening, nights sprinkled with glittering stars.
Widening circles of compassion — a friend sent me a link to this article on the plight of two heroin addicts:
…Eric whisked out of the building, off to buy heroin. If they just had an hour, they needed to cop drugs quick.
When he returned, he shot himself up first, in the arm, before turning to Sonya on the bed.
When Eric moved away from his wife, the skin between her knuckles was a taut, white throb. She grasped her wrist to ease the hand’s trembling, though the whole of her body was a tremble. Hunched on the bed, she snagged on the exhale of her sobs until she lost breath. Her face didn’t lose the sob, though. Eric had hit a nerve with the syringe. So much for the ease of the heroin. The dope was more for preventing sickness than for pleasure these days anyhow.
The struggle to stay human amidst the devastation of addiction. That hopeless attempt to take care of others — an addicted partner, homeless cats, children — hopeless when we can’t even begin to take care of ourselves, a vicious cycle for those who have grown up in alcoholic households and have only the most elementary notions of parenting or fulfilling responsibilities.
As alwqys, poetry sustains and lifts me in difficult times. The Irish poet Dennis O’Driscoll died this December at the age of 58, a writer often described as a poet’s poet. Here from the TLS, his homage to Czeslaw Milosz:
I searched for it, found it, recognized it.
(Czeslaw Milosz, “A Meadow”)
The field your memory singled out for
special treatment can be located by you still:
the one the sun would always make
an extra fuss about, buff until it gleamed
like a copper pan suspended in the oak-
beamed kitchen of your manor house.
Take the well-worn path of memory.
Nothing is beyond recovery. No one has died.
For, as you yourself have prophesied,
The rivers will return to their beginnings . . . .
The dead will wake up, not comprehending.
Till everything that happened has unhappened.
Open the gate. Lean against the haystack.
Look where you were taken by her lips.
Where the old horse-drawn rake, weeds
stuck between its teeth, was rusting.
Where a cow stood ruminating over
sow thistles or in hock to clover and buttercup.
Where the greedy bees make a dash
for the linden grove and light filled in
the gaps between the apple trees.
Where heart-fluttering butterflies clapped wings.
Where green hay, toppled by scythes, soaked up
heat like berries ripening for preserves.
Home in time, you find your bearings there
among sweet calamus and whirring snipe.
Dennis O’Driscoll (2004)