Sunday, June 17, 2007

His Annual Diaries

This is another poem that I wrote about my uncle. His funeral service was held at Poole Crematorium on Friday, May 25, and was a Quaker service, my uncle having been a Quaker for the past 25 years or so. The crematorium was a brick building in woods on a hilltop northeast of Poole. Purple rhododendrons were in bloom as we drove up the driveway. The service was dignified and apt, with the Quaker silence and people getting up to speak from their hearts at intervals. I apologized for my aged mother's inability to be present and read my poem, Receptacle, that I had written about Douglas and his influence on me. Roger Gillet spoke about my uncle's Merseyside childhood and that after becoming a Quaker he had helped select the site for the Quaker meetinghouse in Poole, an old semi-detached house with a datestone of 1888. For years, Doug and his late wife Inge lived above the meetinghouse, and Doug continued to live there up until his final illness. The following poem was occasioned by my wife Donna and I having the opportunity to visit the flat before the funeral. I am thinking that one of the Quakers laid out his diaries on his bed since with his memory loss in his last years it is doubtful that Douglas did so.

His Annual Diaries

My uncle, age 92, is three weeks dead;
in a line, someone has neatly laid
his diaries on his narrow bed.

In leather covers of brown, green, and red:
reminder notes, the things he did,
names of friends who died,

promises and decisions made
-- a civil servant, retired, each bit
noted -- was this how he dreamed it?

Christopher T. George

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