The Light that Comes Through
What happens when you spend a morning really listening to someone?
Well, sometimes it’s poetry.
Joy has come along to a number of Dementia Inclusive Gardening sessions at Plot 22, Community Allotment, but until recently, I hadn’t visited Joy at home. So often Joy has brought poetic insights and reflections to the DIG group, and she had mentioned that she had a small back garden, but didn’t spend much time there. So one day in late October I popped by so we could potter in the back garden together. The morning was bright, and a little on the fresh side.
Although we spent no more than ten minutes in the garden, we had a fine time looking at the daisies, the turning of the leaves, a rose bush still in bloom, and Joy’s collection of garden ornaments. One particularly jolly looking gnome caught my eye, which Joy’s father had painted many years ago.
Feeling the cold a little, we came inside for a cup of tea. Sitting opposite one another at the table in the front room with the sun pouring in, we read the poem Table by Edip Cansever, which I discovered through the Emergency Poet. It’s a curious literal and metaphorical poem about a man who puts everything from his life - and plenty of other things, too - onto a table. Joy likes to read, but her eyes were a little tired on this particular day, so I read the poem a couple of times, pausing every couple of lines, and leaving a few moments of silence. When Joy had a thought, with her permission I made a note of that thought, then we carried on with the poem.
If this doesn’t sound very fancy, you’re right: it’s not. The goal of the morning was not to write poems so much as to spend unhurried time together. The poems simply emerged during that time.
On the value of reading poems and living with dementia, Joy had this to say:
I haven't thought of thoughts before
I ought to do that with poems
It's nice to be able to do it with someone else's thoughts
I can picture pictures as well as read it
It's still there but a lot of it is misted
It's not fair, is it?
Especially when you have the time to stop and stare
(Reflection written November 2017)