Neglected Poems – No.4 – Permanence and Illusion

Friday 30th January

Whereas most of my writing is easy to understand, sometimes you write something which even you feel is edging towards something but quite what it is keeps eluding you.  I think that this is about the fact that nothing is quite what it seems, that even permanence is an illusion – everything dissolves into something else – only the illusion is permanent.  It is also about the conversation which we, men and women, are always having – though not often in words….

Permanence and Illusion

Did I ever tell you – we are an island race

Swept by currents harsh and trembling cliffs

Washed by waves that gently deposit

And build.

Standing on these headland heights

Cutting knife the wind

Voices carry – drifting in – and stark they slip away

And down by the sea where the shingle talks

You get close to the heart of it all.


In our restless quest we are changing every day

Seeking perfection and truth

A chain we are forming as each link we let slip

We are never the same as we were.

This strand of man that clings to my hand

Is a filament waving – a pure golden thread

For a pendant of flame-flashing fire.


He:     Is this the stone that your mother wore

Semi-precious as you are yet.


She:   Yes – give it back – let me hold

Touch, and unfold its obsidian net.

I thought I knew all about you

Could read you like a book

But turning around for a second I found

You’d changed in the time it took.


He:    All permanence is illusion

Even stones will dissolve

Cliffs must crumble in the rain

The shore is a wavering line.


She:   And the sharpest stone in your armoury store

The one that cut me to the core

Was soft at the edges, rounded and smooth

A net to hold and bathe my wounds


He:    Is this the stone that you found on the beach

That day you went out alone

When the gulls flew low and the boats were tethered

Grazing the close-cropped sea?


She:  Yes – I do believe it is – I keep it here on the shelf

A reminder of the days I knew who I was

When I thought all I had might remain.

I know you are clever, that I should agree

About the constant nature of change

Of Illusion, erosion and evolving with time

But to me the stone looks the same.