The credit goes to my daughter for the idea and design.
Tonight the news reached me that you had died. I pray Sir Patrick you went peacefully, content with your lifetime achievement, a service to us all.
It’s true you made me look up, aged 6, I saw the canopy of stars and question from where did it all come. You helped me see my place through my first toy-town telescope. I stayed up all night looking for something out there, extra terrestrial, finding instead the vast unknown in immense magnitude. I stayed awake high on emotion, in belief, confidence that your guide would see me to the belt of Orion, Ursa Minor and beyond.
I honour you and your dazzling display of virtuosity on the xylophone, adding seamless couplets of percussion to an equation of music I’d never heard before. But I remember you more so for the warmth in you eye, with its glint of promise, of an unknown future, charting the possibility of finding more in the ever expanding universe.
It’s taken us three million years for us crawl this far and your contribution to a kinder human race was not so infinitesimally small as to pass unnoticed. It’s there for all to see.
It’s true, I did look up. I looked up to you.
Nine o’clock after a storm of tears
and bed time, soothing talk
of things to do tomorrow,
and a laugh about the things
we did today, followed by a story
from a book with pictures,
then she settles down,
her arms around my neck,
and pauses between questions
as she thinks her way to sleep
with bubbles in her hair.
You can always find me there walking in slow motion… waterlogged in irascible compassion, a drowsiness throughout the frame: nowhere to go, no object of desire. The veins filled a moment, voluptuary beating, an image took my breath away. We are alone, and there is no fulfilment to desire, only it can be stunned and dulled while something else in us takes wing, feels better, turns if possible to affection, with relief. Lead in all the limbs. It is absurd this sense of immobility, one’s life essentially a standing still obscured by frantic motion. Standing still and slowly one’s body changes, matures and decays, and all around are similar slow events. And at times weighed on by a sense of it, knowledge, mesmerised by the stasis, uninformed wonder ending in extinction — how this recurrent sensation of truth parodies our imaging of a journey.
Despairing of truth and glory I am inclined to give myself over to the compensations of the passing moment, but this lifelong urge to be elsewhere — no matter how innate, how conditioned — is not so easily thrown off. So I find my satisfaction looking up, among these trees, we are at one, how solid and lively we are, a whole world around us, whole worlds belonging to us, different scenes we have lived among. We all hold each other together, the presence caught for ever on shiny colour paper stops us floating off into space; soothing, that jagged discomfort of existence is almost lulled away. This sense of surrender, of helpless passivity, a Pagan state of mind harmonises with my erratic journey over dim terrain in fog, maybe lost after all, or constantly re-crossing our tracks; at best, a spiral.