Poem considering the self. Honourable Mention in Philosophical Musings.
Time lays down the strata, one upon another
and another, from childhood memories to yesterday.
Each plays its part, a constant settling of the present
adding to the layers of the past, a sedimentary
history of being. Truth runs though all, distorted, perhaps
and in part, by the crushing weight of the years,
folded and fractured, tilted and abraded, the geological
record of our ages, not changed but buried deep down.
To find the self, we must take a core, a sampling,
down into the earliest memories of life,
the foundation and face of what I have become.
And I, toddler, stand upon the back of our dog
sleeping on the top step of the stoep, and she,
now awake, not moving, somehow aware of my peril,
faithful to the innocent and fearless trust I placed in her.
Can this be true recall, a record of so long ago,
or is it merely reconstruction from the shreds of a family tale?
It matters not; these footprints in the hardened mud
are whispers from the dawn of understanding,
a view through eyes new opened to the world.
Visions crowd in upon us as the ticking clock gains pace;
the velvet fur of a charcoal mole, held for our inspection,
the play my sister devised for our street kid friends,
and I, walking in circles to give her time to change,
sun-dappled forest swathed upon the foothills of the mountain,
the parched plain of the Karoo* under over-arching blue,
the tangled bush of lowveld Kruger** and Africa untamed.
And so to teenage years, the background bleached by sun and heat,
a bicycle the key to freedom, escapades under a faded sky,
and once, a brief flight to land, nose first, in the hard, red earth.
The snapshot stream becomes a flood, real events and photographs,
remembered scenes and dreams envisaged, kaleidoscope
of colour refracted in a million shards, each a few grains of sand,
a contribution to the paleontology of me. Still they drift down,
memories of England, factory roar and the green of summer,
cathedrals sailing through clouded heavens, castles in the air,
long, sandy beaches, secluded coves, crumbling cliffs and stone,
flickering like a silent movie, the images rush by, piling on,
piling on, stratum upon stratum, every moment counts.
Then to a new world, the endless prairie, horizons ruler straight,
and the Greyhound bus, literary icon, through sleepless nights
delivers me to the cold north east, the compresséd past
surfacing now and merging with the present.
Choose your moment in this glittering cataract of time,
look through the eyes of toddler, child, adolescent and man,
‘tis all me, every instant true and still existent, merely hidden
beneath the deposits of the ages. I remain the child,
innocent observer of my later selves, and they, equally,
look back in wonder. Geography and geology am I,
paleontology and history too, a world of memory.
Line Count: 50
Word Count: 483
Prompt: Do you think, therefore you are? Do you feel that there is more to it - to you - than that? Is reality objective or subjective?
“ The Karoo is a semi desert natural region of South Africa.
** Kruger National Park is one of the largest game reserves in Africa.