Probably it was always so …

toys bought to pacify a child in lonely room

and once the books were added

you know the sort, with fantastic stories

and worlds that do not exist

but how we wish they did

the child who was alone, no longer felt alone

for she had her glass-eyed friends who

looked at her, she was sure, with much

tenderness and sympathy, nay even it seemed

a sentience, yes! She felt, they spoke

just not using words outloud, much like her own

a whisper in the mind and just as real

they were alive, as alive as her

together, reading stories of

tree houses and wardrobes, flying four poster beds

lakes of chocolate, of foxes who lived in glorious

burrows, creatures of all caste and creed

they were alive together

a tribe of fur and solitude, the days passed

drab and somewhat unenchanting

the caw of people outside her door, occasionally

a pretense, a few hours of attention with

fidgeting fingers and eyes elsewhere

some duty-bound thing of insincere stitch.

She felt the night, her sanctuary

no shouting, or irritation lay there

perhaps the odd ghost, it is true

but aside the slightly sinister appearance of

furniture lit in moonlight and squinted at

with uncorrected eyes as yet diagnosed

she decided it worthwhile, the mild terrors of

dark for the magic it also possessed

where toys would look closely at her

with inquisitive expressions, begging for

her attention and their familiar smell

the softness of her sheets, where all could be

a surround of safety.

Adults say

do one thing that scares you every day

never settle for comfort or security it

breaks the backbone of forging ahead

but when she hurts now

she thinks back to those nights

hears the murmur of her rabbit and her badger

how they would tell her

it doesn’t matter what others say

you don’t need to join that way

you are free here with us

and even if you feel afraid forever

we will never leave

you will always have this world

and that is where she resides

when you see her gazing out of the window

or ask her how she deals with sorrow

it is not a conventional path

but she was a girl who thought she was a dragon

so that makes sense, when you think about it

we may grow up, but within us we carry

the secret pollination of our soul

34 Replies to “The secret pollination of our soul”

  1. Or how I felt yesterday? 😉 (Peter Pan = you / Peter Paness = me) xo

  2. I love that. I believed that the two stuffed dogs I slept with (one was white with spots and the other black) would protect me as I slept. I knew, without a doubt that if someone climbed in my open window, they would come alive and stop them. I still believe that today. We communicated all the time and I remember the white one, who wasn’t that white any longer, was so thin from me sleeping on him. I understand your poem and I think it’s wonderful.

  3. Ah, my friend, you have me journeying through the books my father read (and helped me to take turns reading, eventually) at bed time — sailing the deep sea with Captain Nemo, getting round the world in just 80 days, meeting an almost kindly seeming pirate called Long John, and, to be sure, perhaps not quite age appropriate, of an old man and a fish and the sea, and a pit with a pendulum or a cask of Amantiado, and flights to the Moon and Mars and beyond, and a British naval officer of the Napoleonic wars named Hornblower in tall ships. Yes, so many seeds, maybe not a garden but a prairie of wild flowers. Oh, and if one was not oneself a dragon, on could, like a girl named Belinda, have a pet one who would eat a pirate. Some people praise the convenience and capacity of a Kindle, but i still feel best with the books shelved to touch and smell, even though there are so many different ones now. Thank you, Candice.

  4. Right? And they did protect you. I think in some way that spirit we imbue toys with is real – maybe that would make me sound mad as an adult, but why are we mad for thinking what we did as a child, as an adult? maybe that’s actually the right way to think! (Thank you so much for reading my friend)

  5. Another reason you and I are twinned, we have so much in common and such similar spirits in some ways it astounds me. I do agree, there is something tactile for children who lift the book up and read it and touch its pages. Kindle can be good for those with eyesight issues, but nothing replaces the experience of a book I agree with you. Ah the Pit and the Pendulum!

  6. I’m so glad. I have been following you for years, it is a real honor to have you follow me thank you dearly my talented friend

  7. Dad did a really good reading of the Poe stories. Early on, I had a book of poems and nursery rhymes, but I only remember two of them from that, The Owl And The Pussycat by Edward Lear and The Tale Of Custard The Dragon by Ogden Nash. Why Those? I think one planted a seed of my imagination of romance, and the other, of the relationship between fear and courage. The Raven was my first “serious” poem, followed by Eldorado, both of which I memorized.

  8. Your dad … sounds like you got some of your golden heart from his tenderness. I loved The Owl and the Pussycat. OH and Custard the Dragon! I remember! Did you ever read The Land Where the Icecream Grows? The Raven is a superb poem.

  9. I haven’t read The Land Where The Icecream Grows – have to look it up.

    I think his tenderness was very cautious in a way, marked by a sadness and small hope for the human race. He rarely spoke of his experience in the war (WW2), like many men of his generation. He had been a navigator in bombers, mainly in the Aleutian Islands campaign against the Japanese, but when that ended he was assigned to a base in West Texas near Odessa to train crews of B-29s. I know he knew the men who flew to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and I had the impression he stayed in touch with some of them for a while, even though he never spoke of how he felt about that, or how they felt (a few did suicide). After he died, I found my mother had saved his letters home from the Alutians. He had a more romantic side than I had known about.

  10. It was written by the guy who wrote Clockwork Orange, Anthony something, anyway weird huh? and a disturbing book but good. I actually collect kids books but there ar enot so many good ones these days I le the older ones a lot more. I think it’s very interesting that men of your father’s generation who knew war intimately and without choice, said so little, their stories really mostly lost now. It saddens me as I think with the end of their generation future generations who didn’t know the world wars will not understand what those generations intimately knew, about the value of life, sacrifice but most important, of never again, I don’t think with people saying the Holocaust didn’t happen and minimizing the world wars or it not being taught adequately in schools that they will understand and thus, history stands to be repeated, only this time it would be … well you know. So your dad’s generation, no wonder they were called the ‘best generation’ i can see why, I suppose he would have been the same gen as my grandfather, and there were some great men and women of those days, just something about them. I think we miss that with our thin lives today. I find people are more homogenized. Where are the big noses and the obvious imperfections that used to be abundant? I bet your father had some incredible experiences but I can see why they didn’t speak of so much, I really can. I truly cannot imagine what it was like for them. I like that he was a romantic though. All is not lost if there is still love and romance.

  11. Right? I do wish so also. So much. BTW thank you VERY much for donating to that horse sanctuary xo

  12. I know you do. Another of ten thousand reasons I admire and like you. It horrifies me how uncaring people are about animals.

  13. Anthony Burgess – I had no idea he had written a kids book.

    I think that generation still had a strong sense of community, even extended family, and duty, that rights and liberty imply corresponding responsibility and obligation – an understanding that now seems so lacking in many.

    As I thought more about my father, I remembered two items, perhaps related. One was a comment I overheard of a conversation between him and my mother of which it was all I heard, and I think it closed the subject, whatever it was. In a somewhat more forceful tone than usual, he said, “Only stupid people believe in happiness.” I knew then that he had times of joy, fun, and contentment, so I think (and I think I understood it this way then) he meant Happiness as a state of being, like believing we are all supposed to be Happy Shiny People, and most, feeling like failures if they are not, or fail to make someone else happy in that sense.

    The second item was from a time (I think I was about 10) I went rooting about in some boxes in the attic and found a box of old college text books, mostly chemistry and math and physics, but among them was a copy of The Upanishads. Then, I didn’t know how central that book is in Hindu and Buddhist philosophy and practice, subjects I never heard him speak of. Was it for a philosophy course, or literature? I don’t know, but I see a connection between these two events.

  14. I’m thinking I would have gotten on really well with your dad and also that you’re not very different from him in those regards and that’s a very good thing. What aman! I love that you can recall things so long ago because sometimes I wish I had better ercall but I know why we forget too. I wonder if you have ever thought of writing a biographyof his life somehow? I always love biographies for that very reason, it’s the little things like having a copy of Upanishad in your attic I mean that’s kind of brilliant isn’t it? The Secret Life of Parents you could call it!

  15. You probably would have, at least before the dementia stole so much of him. A biography of him would be kind of a collection of snapshots – The secret Life Of Parents, indeed.

  16. I’ve always found it puzzling, odd, nonsensical, that in my limited experience, those most likely to get dementia tend to be above average intelligence. How does that even jive with current ‘wisdom’ that if you use your brain more, it will do better? When many, from Iris Murdoch and beyond, did nothing but use their faculties until the very end and still it claimed them? Whilst those I know who seem more ’empty headed’ en mass, seem to avoid the dementia route. I really wonder on that one.

  17. That is a mystery. Maybe we notice it more in bright people? I am sure that my dad’s basic intelligence and staying mentally active did help put the onset of it off into his 90s.

  18. Do you think? So basically it’s more obvious someone is demented if they were intelligent than say, if they were not? I suppose that could be. I tend to believe they might be wrong about our using our brains being a way to thwart dementia. I think it’s so multi-facetted and complex that there is no one thing we can do. I still hope they find a ‘cure’ although likely they will find something that can stop it happening if it’s true that we get it about 20 years before any symptoms. My father has brain damage from a serious car accident in childhood, he developed a form of memory impairment and personality changes like someone on the spectrum, his memory hasn’t worsened as he’s gotten older, which is good, but he’s higher risk for having the memory impairment which seems unfair. He doesn’t ‘use’ his brain enough, but I can’t really condemn him for that as it’s sometimes hard when you have brain injury to just cope with the day to day, let alone play chess as well 😉 – yes you are right, if your father was in his nineties when he got it, then that’s almost natural because everything gets odd and older as we get to that age. Clint Eastwood seems to be a notable exception, I do like that man.

  19. Dad’s dementia was probably not Alzheimer’s judging from the late onset. He did have some arteriosclerosis in his carotid arteries which eventually reduced blood supply to his brain and also, late in the process some Orthostatic hypotension. I have a hunch that whatever benefits derive from “using your brain” are likely to depend much on which parts and what for. For example, orchestral conductors who remain active performers as long as physical health permits do stay sharp, and some of those old Blues players and Rockers can keep cranking out amazing licks, And dancers tend that way too. Then, there is Tony Bennett, even well into Alzheimer’s doing duets with Lady Gaga without ever missing a beat or forgetting a lyric (and obviously having a great time doing it). I wonder what this is telling us.

  20. It’s fascinating isn’t it? I find the concept of being able to remember music despite everything quite brilliant. It proves we know little of how the brain really works because even when parts are GONE that should in theory mean that person cannot tap into something, still they can, so there are those ways of rerouting as they do when someone has brain damage, hence why they say right brained people do worse (or is is the opposite way around?) if brain damaged than left brained people. When my dad was brain damaged he worked around it and had a successful career despite it, which is pretty incredible, but it definitely left its mark. I have always found neurology fascinating. I did chemistry and biology but I couldn’t do the higher division work necessary to be a neurologist, though I find it so interesting, as with viruses and how they impact our health. I wonder if dementia is truly the 4th wave, or just a slowing down based on calcification/sclerosis within the arteries and brain. It makes sense, we cannot live forever, we shouldn’t. But as you say, there are many who defy the odds and stay sharp, I think it’s a lot to do with staying engaged and being physically active. That said, I do a piss poor job of staying engaged as I’d rather read a book than do small talk, but I think it’s different for everyone, what might act as engagement for me, may not be enough for a really socially extroverted person, or be too much for an introvert. Balance. And we go back to concepts of thinking. Tony Bennett is a real inspiration as are some of those blues singers, just incredible. And that woman who was a weight lifted in her ninties! Or the lady who just went into space, or even the lady who swims in her 90’s – great distances.

  21. I suspect that the left-brain processes suffer more quickly from dementia than the right-brain ones, being more dependent on remembering facts (or, “facts”) and language rather than patterns and relationships. My dad, for instance kept his sense of humor long after so much of his factual autobiography was gone – one of the things the nurses liked about him.

    Another interesting connection is that all the things that seem to help stave off dementia also are recommended to help depression and anxiety – food for thought there.

    The saying comes to mind: If you are doing something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. One could add that there is a good chance you’ll live longer too.

  22. Now that is where you and I may differ slightly. I do agree in the adage but I have never found something I loved so I have always felt it was work, whatever I did and that’s just how I am. As for the link with depression my take on that is if you are depressed there are parts of you that shut down through lack of stimulation or because you do not use those parts when depressed and when you do that, you are more at risk of developing dementia. Aside that though, I’m not sure depression ’causes’ dementia although it has been show that dementia can cause depression. Differing from Parkinson’s where there is a documented link between long-term dysthymia and the development of Parkinson’s – probably because of Dopamine and the loss of it that causes Parkinson’s. How horrible to be robbed of faculties along with being super-depressed? I also think we need to divide our understanding of causes of depression, is it epigenetic? Organic? Physical? In most cases a bit of both. But many who are depressed are depressed with ‘good reason’ which is more situational – those who feel it without cause (although that’s terribly judging and I think everyone ‘has cause’ if we think about it) might have learned behavior, or truly inherited, or just see the world that way. Not sure all of those necessarily ’cause’ depression but some of the outcomes as you say, can exacerbate or cultivate it. For example, being anti-social. I’m not anti-social, I have a lot of friends, but I think I have had low-grade (w/some true dips and highs) throughout my life since childhood. Partly circumstantial, partly inherited, partly learned behavior, partly how I see the world. I chose to not be a negative person and to always try to help others believe and have hope, because that’s how I cope and flourish, but I recognize I am more depressed than say, someone who is not, and consequently I don’t want or need to socialize a lot, I get tired/exhausted/jaded by it, it doesn’t give me ‘pep’ the way it would for others, but nobody would know that, because I come across as very out-going and social. I think it’s because how we act because we live in a world, and how we feel in ourselves, are often quite different. I know as I get older I should socialize more to avoid mental fog and lack of stimulation. It feels like just another thing to add to the burgeoning list (along with exercise more, eat right, etc) and sometimes we just want to do what we want to do, which in my case might be, walk, read, watch TV, etc. I know it’s not very admirable but sometimes getting through is all we can do – dementia seems a cruel thing for those who already have a hard time getting through.

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