Friday, December 03, 2010

Big Tent Poetry: Enough

Just a single word prompt at Big Tent Poetry this week: enough.
I did a free write and seemingly got nowhere, then as I was going to bed that night this memory popped into my head - someone I knew at university long ago telling me about the coat he wore - his father's. The details are my own embellishments.

The Coat

“It was my father’s coat” says Aldis
and while he tells the story, I see
a figure trekking eastwards across Europe
ahead of the Russian armies. His scuffed boots,
nine days’ growth on his chin, his thick wool coat
almost to the ground, dark against the snow.
It carries all that he has, but it is enough.
It is his safe, his valuables sewn into the lining.
It is his tent, his transport,
his camouflage in dark alleys,
it is his cupboard with its capacious pockets.
It is his blanket and his pillow on his long journey
by foot and by ship to a new land far to the south
to a city where snow is only on distant mountains
and on ti kouka, summer’s blossoming cabbage trees.

Aldis explains his father’s coat and I see his father
and his father’s father before him, looking out through his eyes,
I see the coat that swirls round his ankles
and keeps out the chill Wellington wind,
almost too well, it is so thick.
It is his family album, his education,
his history lesson, his father’s arms about his shoulders,
it is all he has left of his father
and it is enough.


More poems on the subject of "enough" here


Tilly Bud said...

This is lovely, especially the last two lines.

Linda said...

You've said so much about not only this man's leave taking, but of the experiences of so many immigrants. Leaving is difficult, especially when others ae on your heels. Wonderfully realized poem.

barbara said...

The flowering tree as snow where there is none--I'm glad you brought that. I wonder at his having kept that reminder of a time when it was all he had. Fascinating.

flaubert said...

A really lovely poem.

hedgewitch said...

Poems that tell stories are my favorites, always. (probably from reading The highwayman at a young age, as mentioned here (Please feel free to join the discussion)
This really carries the flavor of winter lands, and hard times. Like that phrase 'the Wellington wind' --and the whole poem.

Tumblewords: said...

Exquisite piece - it speaks to history and to each.

Elizabeth said...

Your poem reminds me of many things. My deep interest in Russian History when I was in college. The movie "Dr. Zhivago", stories that others told when returning from visits to that land that still holds a peculiar interet for me. But, your poem makes it so much more personal. The coat becomes the story, the man, his father, his history. Wonderful piece of writing,


Deb said...

Inspired. Such rich detail, completely believable. So evocative. Like all that the coat provides.

Wayne Pitchko said...

nicely done.....thanks for sharing

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed your narrative poem, its imagery and the history behind it, Catherine.

Mine is here:

gautami tripathy said...

Great narration!

astral music

Robin said...

Very nice. Some lovely, lovely lines here. I love where you took it.

Anonymous said...

i have fallen in love with a very impractical coat recently, and so it's lovely to read a poem about the opposite -- what a treasure a practical coat is!

Cynthia Short said...

What an amazingly beautiful I wish to know more...

sb said...

I love this. I've always wished I could write narrative poems. Oh, actually, I *can* write narrative poems. It's just -- they're never as compelling & evocative as this.