Neile Graham (neile) wrote,
Neile Graham

From October 14th Les Semaines

Monday I turned 49 for the first (and last?) time. (I have no idea if hitting 50 is going to bother me, so I reserve all kinds of rights to decide to stay whatever age I am--and in any case I'm 8 and 28 and 58 and 80, all at once, right now.) Had a lovely family sushi dinner with Devin, Tamar, Karen, and Barry, and Jim made me my favourite lemon poppyseed cheesecake. Perfect.

The rest of the week felt really compressed, trying to get ready to go up to Victoria on the Thursday morning Clipper. I was getting so stressed out about work and everything else I have to do that it made me feel like I might have a stroke or something. Argh. Deep breaths. Deep, deep breaths.

Of course, once I was on the Clipper there was nothing I could do about anything at work or at work, so I just let go of it all. Hooray.

The weekend was wonderful. It was a series of events organized by our friend John Barton to celebrate the 40th anniversay of The Malahat Review and the tenth anniversary of the death of Malahat co-founder (and John's and my poetry mentor) Robin Skelton. There were parties and gallery shows of Robin's art and pieces he donated to galleries, a lecture by Robert Bringhurst about the West Coast Renaissance that Robin and Charles Lillard posited was beginning in the mid-80s, a Gala Reading that I participated in, and a half-hour CBC radio piece with John and Harold Rhenisch (our friend and editor of Robin's recent selected poems) interviewed about him.

It really was a wonderful and moving and happy and sad time. Great to see so many people who loved Robin together again. Great to spend time with my parents and John and Harold and to see people I haven't seen in years.

I was delighted to be invited to participate in the Gala Reading at the Art Gallery. We all read at least one poem by Robin and then a couple of our own. I read my all-time favourite poem of Robin's, "Burning Sticks, Mallorca" and since I have a recording of him reading it, I could hear his voice the entire time I read it. An eerie, beautiful moment.

Poems should be timeless
and be love.
They prove
little but movements
of the hearts they move,
concerned to celebrate
not spell the truth.
The love that puts
this message in my mouth
may be my own
but is not mine alone.

Yes, Robin, yes. Thank you. I miss you. I am still discovering the depths of the lessons you taught me.

Excerpted from Les Semaines.

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