As we, that are left, grow old…

Worn brown slippers pause their shuffle
as he peers past his weathered reflection
to a face forever stilled
in a smile of sweet affection.

Her teasing laugh plays through his mind
like a well-loved vinyl record,
clouded with static and scratches,
but for that, no less adored.

Faded carpet leads to a breakfast nook,
set with a single chair
against lightly patterned linoleum cracked
with the rigors of time and wear.

Habit has him reaching for oatmeal
that he sweetens just a smidgeon
with brown sugar even though the truth is
that taste is yet another lost religion.

Twisting the knob on the radio,
just to break the silence that bears weight,
he rubs blacking with a repurposed rag,
then suit and shoes are donned, tugged straight.

Stepping from the car, he nods and shakes hands
with reflexive courtesy born of age,
and plays his part with the unwelcome polish
of repetition on a tragic stage.

The bugle’s melancholic notes pierce
a weary heart, but men are stoic
and do not weep, do not show fear,
do not shame medals that claim heroic.

Back home, he removes the poppy
and replaces the medals with respect and care,
and sits down to another meal for one
in his solitary kitchen chair.

Memories play to a soundtrack
of the drone of an engine and the crack of guns,
and he refuses to feel self-pity
for he was one of the lucky ones.

Thoughts of Grace

I walked down Queen Street, in central Auckland, today and heard a busker singing this song as I walked past people lighting candles to go with the tributes left for Grace Millane.

I don’t often blog about current events.  In the 18 years that I’ve been blogging, I’ve probably blogged about national or global events ten or so times where the news has not directly impacted me.  It’s not something that I do.  I’m not interested in current affairs or politics.  But every now and then, I am touched, saddened, heartened or angered by such things.  I am emotionally affected, and therefore it seems appropriate to share that.

What makes Grace’s story so different from others?  Others have died.  Others have been murdered.  People as young or younger.  People with as much potential or more.  The truth is, I don’t know what makes Grace’s story different.  Only that it is.

My colleagues at work have discussed Grace.  Perhaps that’s because we work literally next door to the hotel in which she was murdered.  Perhaps it is because she is being discussed in offices around the country.  I have overheard people talking about her on the train.  And she has been discussed at home.

Every day as I walk past the hotel on my way to work, I see the tributes that people have left for Grace.  Flowers, gifts, etc.  From people who didn’t know Grace.  From people who never met Grace and never will.  People are grieving for someone they have never met.

I haven’t been following anything on social media, but I did notice there were a few people climbing on their soap boxes.  Saying that those who condemned Grace for travelling alone were perpetuating the cycle of violence against women. That any woman should be able to travel alone and be safe.  I agree.  I agree that any woman travelling alone should be safe.  But it is not the way it is.  I am reminded of the John Lennon song, Imagine.  There are so many dreams and wishes we might have for society, that every person should live in peace and never go without food, clean water, shelter and love.  But that’s not the way it is either.  Does that mean we don’t want it?  No, we do want it.  Does that mean we do nothing for those who are suffering?  Turn a blind eye?  No, it does not.  But it also does not mean that we turn a blind eye to the risks that are out there in the world.

I have been saddened by Grace’s death, and she has been much on my thoughts this week.  I don’t think she is a lesson to be learned.  But it is a tragedy.  As a mother of a daughter, I am very saddened by Grace’s death.  And I felt compelled to write something, to commemorate her.