I am the family philosopher, or so they say
And we were there in the farmhouse together one day
In Spring, visiting Julie and John
And our two grandsons, which is always fun.
Abstract thought were leading me by the nose
About something I’d read, and begun to suppose
That a catharsic cycle I now could explain,
How it lead through apathy, sadness, anger and pain
To acceptance and a final release for some,
The ones who could understand and so overcome,
While continuing cycles remained for those stuck in fear
Until they learned that their anger leads nowhere;
For progress is blind, and we are called to accept
An uncoupling from all that we worked to collect.
Without a commitment, no truth can be found
And we carry on going around and around –

As I glanced up to see, silhouette through the door
A clustered group on the stone-flagged kitchen floor;
Grandmother, daughter and grandson in family meet
Peering engrossed at an old, wooden chest that lay at their feet.
Strips of sandpaper clasped in their hands
And surrounded by pots, tins and cotton wool strands;
A sunlit etched vignette, spotlighting their tasks,
‘What are you doing there?’ the philosopher asks.
‘We are working on this old piece,’ she answered him.
They continued surveying as he stroked his chin,
And William started to sandpaper again
Working as Omalein said, just with the grain.
Julie left to feed the dogs as her mother musingly
Stood, looking at the old chest studying, speculatively,
Making little noises, pointing out details to Wills,
Their heads bent together, absorbed in their mutual skills.

The wood looked old, dull, wasted to the philosopher’s eye
His thought still half here and half there up on high.
‘It looks a lifeless piece to me,’ he said, focusing on earth
‘To be taking such pains, it doesn’t seem worth……’
From layers locked deep in her melioristic mind
She jerked free of involvement, searching to find.
The words that might satisfy her just what she meant
And explain to him a meaning of her intent.
All that was practical to her here expressed,
Alone if need be, but togetherness best
A fulfillment in service, where achievements unite
Pulling together an order, revealing a light;
The philosopher’s loving, lovable, talented wife
Answered, ‘It is like bringing neglected children to life.’

May 1997