Learning Absences (1986)
Being alone is also to be learnt
Long time or short time.
Walking the length of the house, shutting
The doors and the windows
No longer calling casually over one’s shoulder.
Returning to find no trace
Of the other, companionable living –
Bread smell, the stove still warm,
Clothes on the line like messages,
Or messages written and left on the kitchen table:
“We need to keep watering the cumquat.”
Or, “I have paid the milkman.”
At night, at this season, lingering at the window
Not being certain where to find Halley’s Comet,
And looking a long time at the darkening sky.
Text taken from “Rosemary Dobson, Collected Poems”, part of the Angus & Robertson series ‘Modern Poets’. Published 1991, ISBN 0 207 16864 4. Text copyright © Rosemary Dobson 1991.
The first thing that inspired me from the poem was the subtle traces left behind by the person who had left. Then I started to think about the body as an abandoned building and what would happen to it if it was left untouched. Mould, rust, dust, cobwebs etc. If your body was like an abandoned building and you were left alone, would you rust up, become covered in cobwebs and go mouldy?
The book which I think I will call – 7 Signs of Absence – (I think the Olay advert – the 7 signs of ageing – somehow got stuck in my head!) also connects up with other work I have been doing about ‘Traces Left Behind’ which explores ideas about emotional/mental wounds being shown as physical manifestations.
However! Lying in bed last night I started to think about a concertina binding. How sad am I? My boyfriend said “what are you thinking about?” and I sheepishly replied – bookbinding…..