This was written by Annie Parmeter in 2003.
Now her ashes are down by a lily pond, and she is forever young.
A suitable poem for an end of an old year, and the start of one that, for her, will be forever new.
On a quietly respectable corner of a quietly respectable street
The old house stood, its darkly staring windows
Tightly shaded against the light
Vacantly and vicariously
Watching the world pass by
How long had it relentlessly stood here
How long had the sun relentlessly baked its peeling walls?
A tortoiseshell cat stretched languorously upon the verandah.
Like generations before her she kept a tidy house
Polishing her keepsakes, cherishing her memories
Every day, every day, in the same old way
Keeping the legacy alive.
Finding herself in the faces on the mantelpiece
Cold-eyed and tyrannical
Unfeeling dispassionate ghosts.
Long fingers kept a tight grip on her soul.
But who was she, where did she belong
How long could she be sustained
By subtly shifting memories?
Day after day reciting the inventory
Building her world all over again
Desperately hoping it would turn out the same
Trapped like an ant in amber
In a tomb of her own construction.
Deep in her heart a quietly insistent voice called,
'Oh cease to lament for what could have been!
To what place have your memories brought you?
Without knowing you have changed them
To suit your own view of your life
And thus you have rendered them void,
Seeking to protect yourself from time
How old you have become.'
'Discard your routines, your inventories and history
False props against uncertainty
They serve only to burden you with their care
Rendering you vulnerable to their loss
Alone to wallow in rose-tinted grief.
By looking back you have hoped to avoid
The terror in the face of the unknown
And the challenge that lies in becoming.'
Deep in my heart a quietly insistent voice calls,
'Leave with me now, come into the day
Leave this house, its history, its legacy.'
Today its darkly hopeless eyes
Will look jealously upon me
How easily will it give me up?
One part of its structure removed
How long will it take to fall?
Out through the garden and down to the river
I shall bathe in the waters of life.
Only once to look back with a smile
And witness the memories dissolving
In an eddy of feelings and voices
The dust of dry bones scattering on the wind.
No longer held in my care
They dissipate into nothingness.
Now the sun shines on a new day
Lilies grace the riverbank with their perfume
I smell each flower as if it were the first
The fingers of a fresh breeze caress my cheek
Skylarks sing in the bright shining meadows
All this so familiar
And yet never seen before
For at last, truly I am young.
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