Anthony W. Pahl
Consequential feelings and reasons
attracting acolytes to learn and discern
between fact and fiction;
rhyme and diction,
a matter of metre
emphasis – lesser or greater.
Bittersweet soul and senses,
Wondrous words and sounds abound.
Sunlight fingers create music on dappled leaves.
Formless breezes illuminate where eyes can’t reach.
A touch of quietness
(the gift of ancient trees)
between me and the worldly other.
the interloping metal carriages
sit tirelessly and impatiently for the final word.
Are my words and worlds prepared to unite?
I have to decide.
I do – they’re not!
©Copyright August 14, 1999 by Anthony W. Pahl
Author’s Note: I will now take absolute pleasure in interpreting “Writer’s Retreat” in the full knowledge that it may make not one iota of difference to your opinion of the poem, but it may help you to understand the factors that motivated me to write it.
With nine other writers, I attended a writer’s retreat in Torquay, Victoria during August 1999. The accommodation was near the beach but was set back off the road and surrounded by wonderful conifer trees that blocked all the sound of the world outside the one that we created for ourselves. We had no phones, televisions, radios but we were very comfortable in wonderful house-like building and had a caterer to look after our culinary needs. Thus, we were able to concentrate on the reason for the retreat – to gain greater knowledge by association with each other and several professional writers who held workshops on various facets and styles of writings.
So much for the setting: now the interpretation.
The feelings that were expected to be engendered by the setting, company and exchange of ideas was a major factor in the success of the retreat – and we confirmed in ourselves that what we were writing was valid, honest, technically correct and above all, true to our perceptions of what poetry, prose and narrative should be. In other words, we write because we believe in that which we write, not just because we are expected to write in a certain way. So for one, the emphasis on a particular aspect is greater than for another. Hence the first verse.
The second verse is more personal. For the first time in 8 years, I was away from home without my wife. I suffer from chronic war related PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and have spent more than 5 years (in aggregate) since September 1992 in psychiatric hospitals. To be alone with comparative strangers was awesome. To experience such things as the sounds of birds, the wind, the sea, the rustling of branches against the roof of the house – these things, as wondrous and magical as they were, caused in me an almost overwhelming sadness with the realisation that I had missed out on these things for so long because of my illness. Nevertheless, the utter joy I was experiencing allowed me to view, hear and sense things that I would probably not have perceived otherwise.
And the noise of the world in which I had become accustomed was figuratively blocked out by the wonderful sentinels sent by God to screen me – even if only for a few days – the gift of ancient trees.
But all good things must end and there is a sad realisation in that. The fourth verse describes the cars that were screened in an adjacent but hidden car park. The cars were waiting for us to finish our workshops and farewells, waiting to return us to the “normal” world. Viewing them as we approached them seemed to say “hurry up, we have to get going!” “Tirelessly” is a play on words; “without the need for rest” from their perspective and “without tyres” from our wish that the retreat could continue forever.
And the last lines represent the question I asked myself as I was departing. Am I ready to go back to my normal world? Am I ready to allow that which I have learned about writing and myself to become integrated? I have to make a decision regarding these questions! So I do, and I decide that the answer to both those questions is an emphatic “NO!” I can never go back to what was – henceforth all my ideas, ideals, perceptions and perspectives have changed, and though I may be physically in the “old” world, my mind has moved on to a new, hopeful, and hopefully better world.
God bless you all