Dinner with Alan Rickman
It’s dark out.
The light’s glow, fake fireflies
In The Quiet Night.
We can’t see The Trees
But we know they’re there
We’re at a picnic table.
Bare wood, unsteady boards.
We’re wearing wool and longs against
the bites and brrr’s
Our skeletons beat bone white
against the black Cold.
We eat, with gusto:
Cheese-laced lasagne full of dripping
tomatoes and crisped-to-crunch-basil leaves
We sip sweet-smile-soda
(it is so orange it looks more real than Real)
Then tropical fruit salad for dessert.
We eat our fill of mid-winter holidays.
The meal, now over, sits like an archaeology
Alan is extolling the virtues of The Afterlife.
How he had tea with Austen and talked
Social status and dance cards.
How they together watched the Union solders march by
Always marching, marching by.
I tell him I’d be orange if I were a colour.
It’s less overwhelming than red.
And not everyone can wear it, I say.
He smiles at that.
I feel safe within his smile.
As I do in the presence of his nasal drawl.
But the questions are kind.
There are queries about religion and creativity
(creativity is what you want it to be!
he says vehemently)
We compare deer and dolphins as endangered species
And as spirit animals.
We discuss scarcity mindsets in the middle class.
I realise as we talk that I feel safer still
as a reflection in his eyes.
This poem was written at the Kahini Writer’s Retreat 2020 held at Waikanae Beach in Aotearoa New Zealand. The bare bones of it were written as a 10 minute free-writing exercise in response to interview questions attendees exchanged with another participant.
Many of the things and featured in this poem (Alan Rickman, Union Soldiers, the colour orange, dolphins and deer) were answers from my interviewee. I then added in some of the beautiful natural setting and the wonderful meal we had on arrival at the retreat.
Note that i used creative license (an artist’s best friend) to craft a poem with what i hope has a wider and more considered significance than just a random juxtaposition of elements.
I believe poetry is both about specific things and everything. Both at the same time. I hope this poem conveys a sense of this..