I’ve just read Isobel DeGruchy’s new poetry manuscript – “Now Done Yet.” She brings her gifts of painting and photography to the collection.
Isobel writes in her introduction: By naming this collection of poems “Not Done Yet” I may be shouting defiance at the unstoppable enemies of humankind – namely age and disease. Both of them move inexorably on, engulfing all in their path. And so I find, in my eightieth year, that both my age and the Parkinson’s Disease are making themselves very apparent and it seems no longer possible to evade them.
The Old Bok
There he was – a visitor – unexpected,
but welcome – a grey rhebok.
We know of their presence, yet rarely see them.
But when I opened the curtains with a flourish
he did not look up with startled eyes
or bound away – he went on grazing.
Did he not hear me? Or see me?
He made it easy for me,
to capture his image, even
coming closer and closer,
nibbling the grass and sampling the flowers.
Then I was certain – he was an old bok,
sent off to die, no longer of use,
replaced by a younger, stronger male,
a liability now, shaggy fur, arthritic slow legs,
the shadow of what he once was.
Rejected and left to his own devises,
he found our garden easy pickings.
I empathised with him,
I who am also old,
slow of hearing, short of sight,
with aching limbs and diminished strength.
But my heart went out to him,
for I will not be sent off to die.
I watched as he made his painful way down the hill.
Where is he now, the old bok?
Isobel writes: Over the years I have also written haiku, and unlike the classic Japanese poems, I have thought how well they go with illustration, either a straight photo or a photo of one of my paintings. At one time I contemplated printing a book just with haiku but that never came to pass. Now I have included a number of recent ones in this collection.
Hoopoe on the grass,
Striped wings and spikey hair,
No mistaking you.
Sunrise on Grotto Beach
Being out early
Is what it takes to witness
The world turned to gold.
The great blue-gum fell
Suddenly without a fuss.
May I do that too.
And again from Isobel’s introduction:
And thanks to God who has always kept me going and I claim in the right direction, and kept my mind at least functioning smartly, with none of my marbles lost. Time moves on, life slows down, or I should say, I slow down while life rushes by, but tough as some of it may be, there is satisfaction in creating something new and joy in so much that life still offers. I pray that anyone who picks up this book may find along with some of my pains and struggles reflected in its pages, also a sense of joy.
Not Done Yet
Julian in her cell,
alone in silent contemplation,
praying and working
on her puzzle of meaning for twenty years
after her astonishing showings,
writing them down for her even Christians,
so that we can experience them too,
For at age thirty she stared death in the eye,
and our Lord gave her sixteen showings,
she called them, in which
he took her to be with him on the cross,
and she saw pictures, truths, visions,
heard stories, received messages.
What did it all mean?
At age fifty she came to understand,
to see with her spiritual eye.
She wrote down all that our Lord showed her,
and after that? Did she pray some more?
Did she puzzle some more?
Did her understanding grow and change?
As a new century dawned,
did she think any differently?
Did another twenty years bring up new questions
or was she stable, static even in her thinking?
Did she reach eighty, still
full of joy and surety and love?
Will we ever know?
But this I do know,
from age eighteen I have worked
on the puzzle of meaning
with no showings or revelations,
but I am still finding treasure
buried in a field,
still coming across pearls of great price,
tasting wine of surpassing flavour,
and feeding on bread of lasting sustenance.
Nearing eighty, I am still puzzling over life’s meaning:
I’m not done yet.
28.6.17, With reference to Julian of Norwich: Showings