Five Instances of Water and Memory
Mnemosyne in her chariot
driving hard through autumn's wet forest
her willow hair knotted with pearls
her hunting dogs yelping at the wheels
her crows and eagles flying low at her shoulder
the hooves of her stallions shod
The clouds are heavy with rain.
Professor Tarnasus strokes his beard.
It is too warm in here,too warm for a waistcoat,
bow tie and mac. He stands and begins to
undress in full view of the nursing home's staff.
"Do not fear" he says in his best lecturing voice.
"I'm not about to make a spectacle of myself.
I am warm and require nourishment before I expire!"
His mother looks up as he goes into the unfamiliar kitchen.
She covers her ears,startled by the clatter of spoons,
cups, the emptying of drawers.
She treated us to an afternoon at the cinema.
Christmas was just around the corner.
A Jacques Tati double bill - Hulot the postman;
Hulot at play in his collapsible boat -
films she had last seen as a schoolgirl in Lucerne.
The cinema was mostly deserted; our laughter filled
the empty seats. That afternoon she laughed with joy.
Briefly she forgot the disease that had
Professor Tarnasus enters carrying a tray.
"Be careful dear residents" he says and sets
down a steaming tea pot before his mother.
It is getting warmer, he thinks.
Will I have to strip down to my vest ?
He pours for them all, stirring the boiling water,
straining the pungent leaves. The old woman lifts
a cup to her lips and takes a sip - remembers
who he is.
Mnemosyne leads her stallions to the
great river that bears her name. Her
acolytes and dogs swim and drink their fill.
Sunlight breaks through the clouds, scatters
light across the water. The goddess' green robes
are heavy with liquid. The sacred river sparkles,
glistens in its own way.