Usually I do not provide a context for reading any of my work but I hope that you appreciate that this is different enough to do so. Perhaps knowing the story behind this poem will add to the pleasure of the reader.
I wrote it several years ago after journeying home from a meal with a friend. My friend had confided in me his feelings and thoughts about his Dads death and how he had reacted to his Dads illness. You see, for many weeks, perhaps months, my friend had to be persuaded and cajoled by his siblings to take his turn in visiting the father in hospital. I should say also here that Dad could not speak or otherwise communicate. Feeling the pressure to do so my friend visited on the scheduled days but decided to take along some work to do so that the time was not completely wasted.
Sadly and inevitably his Dad died some time later. As sad as this was my friend did what many would do in similar circumstances – he got on with rest of his life. A few years elapsed and my friend was invited to a little social gathering where people from a variety of backgrounds happened to be present. Sharing drinks and snacks that evening was a medical professional who my friend instantly hit it off with. In amongst their many topics of conversation that evening my friend learned that, according to this Doctor, hearing was the last sense to go when a person was dying.
Needless to say it tore my friend apart that there in that hospital room he had been presented with a golden opportunity to say whatever he wanted to his beloved Dad but chose to do some work instead. From that moment on my friend has been wracked by guilt about his inability to tell his Dad how much he loved him and how much he was thankful for the many things that he had done for him throughout his life.
Anyway I wrote this for my friend and hope that you like it.
In a solitary moment
I think of what I’ve been.
Those things I have, or haven’t done
That make me feel unclean.
Sometimes I’ve been tainted
With a shallowness of thought.
Immersed in the collection
Of all the things I’d got.
Guilt is not appropriate,
Nor essential to the plan.
But it stamps the individual
Within each and every man.
poem © copyright Brian Shirra 2012