art rat cafe

words, images and food for thought

Journal 1

I will never remember the day my father died, but I do remember the silent heat hanging between the ringing telephone and Gully’s voice calling my name. I remember my mother speaking through the cool plastic receiver against my ear…”Dad died two days ago, I’ve been trying to find you…

I had never known a telephone line from England to be so clear or my mother’s voice so near, as if she were standing next to me. I had never known words to connect so slowly, their continuity broken by half a world of dead air. I had never heard a voice fail so bravely to hide two empty arms reaching out across a double abyss of pain.

A fly buzzed in the summer silence of the small hallway. A yellow spider, smaller than a pinhead, drifted across my hand, my father’s hand. My father wasn’t dead; he lived in my hand!

As a child I learned my father’s hands. I traveled their landscapes and watched the lines grow deeper. Why had I never noticed that he had given his hands to me? He was becoming me as I was becoming him.

Whatever else I had once been was now running in a sobbing child toward the open arms of my mother’s voice. In the numb emptiness I felt a deep and unexpected release. Then, somehow, I was in the world of before. If there were words they are forgotten. The moment is caught forever like a camera pins an eagle in mid-flight forever. Laced in shadow and light Gully and Jay drink tea on the porch, unaware of the dark hole in me. Zeb rides his tricycle across the lawn towards us. The late afternoon sun fractures against the line of cedars, sun diamonds dance on the river.

Remembering his dear self, gentle, accepting, so quiet, so sad at his missed dreams, white haired and bushy eye-browed amongst his geraniums. We were apart in many ways and now I felt closer to him than ever before. Life and death, on and on it goes, the dear faces passing into the unknown.

I tentatively touch the moment as a tongue explores a repaired tooth after the Novocaine has faded. The moment unfreezes and the world begins again like an old newsreel.

I sat late by the river, glad of the night. Unable to be who I was before, I hid my vulnerability between the dark stars and finally honoured my father with tears.

Goodnight daddy, wherever you are now, commercial traveling through the universe.

Take time; give time. Slow down, look in. Take care; give time.

I dreamed last night of a revolution of colour in a black and white future.

Of what can we ever be truly sure? I have yet to discover anything that does not yield its perceived nature to focused attention. What is revealed except another layer of perceived nature? And this, in its turn, yields yet again to reveal another layer: da capo.

There are moments when attention is lost and something else flows in to fill the vacuum. I act, and then question the act as if another acted, and then I question the questioning.

Picking flowers can be the result of a kind feeling. The kind feeling can then be later suppressed by wondering about the killing of the flower. What is the answer? To kill the flower to show one’s joy in its life and then to share this joy with another; or to spare the flower and not share the joy? Where does the joy live, in the flower or in me? Is the beauty of the flower the cause of its own death, or is the hand that picks it the cause?

Does my intent matter to the flower?

I pause to look at the beauty of blossoms. In summer dusk the colour of flowers becomes luminous. In winter daylight the colours warm the chill air. Some blooms make the eyes tingle while others draw the heart nearer as the spirit sinks into them (how do the bees escape?)

Does the flower ask to be picked so that its life can be shared?

There was an image of someone I once knew, stirring memory of another time. I moved the picture one day and dry roses fell around my fingers. A corner of the photograph crumbled. I avoided any further touching for fear of losing that face.

I found your poem tonight. I am loved, and this is the strength that keeps the shadows at bay and exorcises the ghosts. You are all to me.

Broom scatters dust into sunlight, steam shakes the kettle, a daffodil in a bottle is reflected in a glass. In the moment of watching, the dance of the self is heard.

Standing at the roadside in the Qualicum Beach sun wagging my thumb. The sea smells like oysters, the ocean laps gently on the beach across from the highway. Malika dog chases seagulls. Open sky, wide water, cabin dwelling, candlelight, wood smoke and silence.

In the back of an open truck, blown by the sea and flower scented wind, she holds on to her hat and her long hair embraces her laughing face.

Dallas Road, at the beach a wondrous sight; two whales spouted and broke to the surface very close to shore. These two beings from the deeps sent shudders through me. We ran and the dogs ran trying to keep up, laughing and barking. They swam along the shoreline in great spraying arcs, soon outdistancing us, they were gone, and we stood for a very long time watching the space where they had been, out of breath, out of time. I felt tears in my eyes.

The endless lists, why do I need them? Through experiencing forgetting I have forgotten how to remember.

Walking alone on the beach, touching the gods under a symphony of weather turning above me like a mandala, dark fast clouds in turmoil, high winds, black ocean, leaping waves crashing. Then sunlight, blue, calm green sea, then chaos again. A rainbow ending in the ocean before me, glory-be, be glory.

Reaching into the rain for bottles of HP sauce. There is clean water in the flower vases and soy burgers are frying tonight.

Wasted, a dream of innocence, spinning shapes of energy, animated dancers move in slow motion leaving trails of phosphorescence, and I am NOT contained between my hat and boots.

“Coho love Buck tails in the early morning” the fisherman on the bus tells me.

I read – “A Boojum is a sort of manhole in a Trans dimensional sewage system.”

“Hey” says the old Indian, “got a chew of snooze?”

Lying in sun on harbor lawns, flowers still blooming everywhere, gardens and parks bursting with colour, long afternoon shadows across the soft green, warm breeze, traffic and children sounds and four air cadets with rifles, one at each corner of the war memorial, a bronze warrior on top, bayonet drawn, ready to take Government Street, helmet covered in bird shit. Two kids on a six-foot high tandem bike cycle past, waving and laughing. The carillon strikes four. Out of the heart of silence I share my love.

11 thoughts on “Journal 1

  1. truly astonishing and so very inspiring — all that you create

  2. John, visiting your words on this journal with a pool of tears greeting my cheeks.
    Your truthfulness motions the thickest of lashes. Wonderful you. – Me

  3. This is so visual, so inspiring. Truly written from the heart. Thank you.

    • Thank YOU for taking the time to read my journal and I’m happy that you found meaning there. I’ve been tardy in adding to these writings but will get to it eventually. Nice to meet you…

  4. For those few minutes, I actually forgot I was sitting in front of a computer monitor.

  5. John….. Tears were freely flowing down my ample cheeks when I read your poetic words describing your memories of your father, and his passing from this life. You are truly not only a gifted painter, but a cherished writer. Bless you for having the courage to share these words with all of us who have met you, in all ways. Namaste, Ellen

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