Honouring What We Cannot Recall


The recent mistreatment of refugees is very much on the mind of so many of us, not just on the basis of our failure to take in as many refugees as other countries, but our ugly tribal racism. Our cowardly and ignorant racism has dictated our ugly political posturing for far too long.

As one who believes that our present existence is closely related to our past lives, our failure to honour visitors to this country now comes as a real and painful disappointment. In honour of the past and those we have known and can no longer recall, I wrote a poem encompassing all those fleeting moments we have experienced in our past lives, and both conveniently and inconveniently forgotten:

This earthly mind of mine
Won’t recall
Mother’s greatest great grandmother…
Wading through floods
Heavy with child
Fighting for life…
My cells know all about it
But my mind won’t retain it

And this earthly mind of yours
Won’t ever bring back the memory
Of that smiling boy on horse-back
Tricorn hat tipped to one side
Thrilled to be off someplace different
Your memory doesn’t contain that chapter
But you were there

Voyaging arduously across the oceans
Our ancestors passed each other 
They were bold nomads, cunning migrants 
Exiles, refugees, runaways, adventurers,
And you and I don’t recall a thing
Yet we are their progeny 

Today I bow to you
Struggling (and failing) to recall
When you took my hand in the desert
And lead me out

Tomorrow, shall we do coffee? Of course.
Even then I won’t remember the moment
When your voice made my heart leap
And you asked for a goblet of wine

Old memories drift — leaves on a stream
They wilfully float beyond reach

So knowing this
Let’s honour each other
Accept our limitations
And reach out to each other
And the world
As we have done before
So many times
In so many places
In love, out of love
And with love

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