It will come when it comes
Winter is approaching and unless we can escape to the southern hemisphere for a few months we can’t avoid it; the colder weather, the rain and gales and short dreary days. For many people this is a challenging time of year but may be more so if contending with homelessness, an uncertain tenancy or poor physical and/or mental health. SAD (seasonal affective disorder) is a well-documented condition that even in a mild form can make winter seem an endless misery. The spectre of Christmas can also bring a chill all of its own; for some a time of celebration with family and friends that throws into sharp relief the cheerless and lonely experience it is for others.
I don’t mind winter. I like the ebb and flow of the seasons but winter often makes me feel I need to hibernate—not for the whole three months but I could easily lose a couple of weeks before the winter solstice. After this the promise of the sun’s return helps wake me up.
I’d not set a theme for our recent writing session but there was a wintery mood about. One of our guests, J, who had never attended the writing group, was unsure what to write and where to start but definitely didn’t want to write a poem. I am wary of being too prescriptive as I know if I say write this or that then what is produced won’t be what the guest wants or needs to write. A more subtle prompt can come from looking at pictures or photos. I have word-cards that can be chosen intuitively, as well as a lucky-dip bag full of small items that when retrieved might inspire a response. Other people’s writing can also set things rolling. Lately I’ve been reading poems by Elizabeth Bishop and Charles Causley, very different poets but both very acute observers who produce very readable poems. I used to feel daunted by well-written poetry or prose, because I felt I never could be that accomplished, but now I am more positive and try to be inspired by them rather than overwhelmed. I’ve also learned that a good poem takes time and patience. You can’t hurry a poem but sometimes a poem comes when it’s needed and can seem like gift.
In the end I gave J some paper and a pen and this is what he wrote:
So Long To Wait
I’m here because I was feeling depressed.
I don’t have any hope at the moment
so long to wait
4 weeks before things might get better
seems like a lifetime to wait so long.
Better here than wait at home?
I love seagulls – never go to the seaside
never go on holiday—
haven’t been on holiday for 40 years
since I was at school.
Winter coming now – 6 months of dark and cold
no leaves on the trees, very depressing future.
By J O