On hearing that Ronnie...

for Ronald Hindmarsh-Midwood
(24.O5.30 - 17.01.92)

To recall a friend
is never an adieu
he has merely stepped across the landing
the light still beams the door's ajar
you can hear him pacing humming swinging the windows
to let the street in the warmth
the wind ruffled
through his half-opened shirt

Across the spare digs halfway to the Schloss
austere in the shaded light slanting on drab curtains
the bare table rough-hewn the dishevelled books
the gaping porcelain jug and still wet basin
the whiff of fresh-bitten soap the close shave
and the stiff white collar excusing the day-old striped shirt

A gentle tap the door opens to a glass of port
cut bread
and even if you will not cheese

"Beware! Beware you don't become an Hasbeen!"
he made no bones of his luck from stipends through Reading
the wideopen eyes commisserating through the flailing sheaf
fallen on his ample brow
the hand ever brushing aside
that wilful unconcern in your life
in your little worries your mishaps
And you knew you had mattered in his life

To recall a friend
is to give body to form
to words that bind muscle to bone
those mutual moments

You may come back a quarter of a century later
And he is still there a trifle stumped by your aged face
the mutual moments flow without break

You had driven through four sleepless nights
your eyes peeled beyond weariness
your mind bristling and in the red

"Take care! Take care", he said, "lest you burn both ends!"

Other worlds other duties
keep you from bringing up his face
keep you from keeping mementoes:
"Never excuse, never apologise!"
yes you might have penned a word
when the stolid face swung back
you didn't for that would've been abrupt
too flippant unceremonious requiring tact

So you turn up à l'improviste
the mutual moments flow over coffee at the Konditorei
the same cream curtains
the same goldbraided periodlike chairs
over neatly folded ceremoniallike lace
the irreal flood of filtered light
no more the tug and grating pull of trams to dull your words

Again the same attentive stare the same empathic vigil
for your fresh worries for your private imbroglios
while he foregoes a meal at the mensa

Only you hadn't known nor suspected
the stealthy pain gnawing away at the bones
nor did he let it be shown

Only the stoic face and the pained look

for your own blasé pain

(Published as a « preface » to Ronald Hindmarsh’s commemorative writings : « Mr. Hindmarsh is not writing a book.” Englisches Seminar,1993. Ronnie taught English at Heidelberg University when I first met him during the summer semester in 1957. He died in harness.)

T. Wignesan

If I might be allowed to say so, I think my "first" love was poetry. Unfortunately for me, the British curricula at school did not put me in touch with the Metaphysical Poets, nor with the post-Georgian school. Almost all the school texts after World War II contained invariably Victorian narrative poems and some popular examples of Romantic poetry. I chanced upon a selection of T. S. Eliot's and Fitzgerald's Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, and a little later on Pope's An Essay on Man and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. That did the trick. Yet, I regret not having taken to prose in earnest earlier than the publication of my first collection: Tracks of a Tramp (1961). There's nothing like trying your hand at all kinds of prose exercises to come to grips with poetry. Or rather to see how poetry makes for the essence of speech/Speech and makes you realise how it can communicate what prose cannot easily convey. I have managed to put together several collections of poems, but never actually sought to find homes for them in magazines, periodicals or anthologies. Apart from the one published book, some of my sporadic efforts may be sampled at http://www.stateless.freehosting.net/Collection of Poems.htm

Last updated July 05, 2016