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Wednesday’s Wise Woman … Gill Learner

March 13, 2012

When my daughter left home and went to live in Brazil – my heart broke.  I took lots of measures to alleviate the pain.  Reading poetry I found helpful.  Quite by accident at work while cataloguing our collection of works published by the Two Rivers Press I come across a poem by Gill Learner.

The calorific value of anxiety for Emma

I stalk through the atlas,

study weather, calculate the time

it must be there, decide you’re heartless

then that probably it doesn’t seem

an aeon-and-a-half to you, among the smells, noise, flavours of exotic places :

and when at last the phone does ring

I shrug away your reasons or excuses.

Consider all the parents, lovers, partners

fretting for backpackers, peace-

keepers, explorers, migrant workers,

their worry gathering in clouds like gas.

Harnessed, this energy could power

a small country for a year. (Learner 2010)

Although ‘M’ and I have kept in contact (our communication skills are finely tuned) and I rarely ‘waited’ for calls, I have indeed burned much energy and can sympathise with the ‘waiting person’.

I have since become more able to cope with the separation; it has not been easy and not yet fully accomplished.  But writing about it has helped and I have even written a few poems. Whilst they do not match those of Gill Learner it is a skill I would like to perfect and use some of the wasted energy.

At the airport

At the airport
No strolling out one summer’s morn,
Almost, she strides from the fading wintery sun.
Gone the hesitant step of yesterday
The whys? What ifs? And When?
Have all been asked.
Each kilo weighed and unweighed
Every winter woollie put away to grieve,
Instead summer slithers fit each crevice to offer protection from the sun.
Each strap strained and pulled
The planes face west, more west.
No rest now,
The plans come to an end and new plans awaken.
Lorca, Neruda and Laurie Lee you are to blame,
But even you she has laid aside with love I know.
You will not pay the rent or mediate with officials
But wait,
Your political poems and plays – prize winning language of love,
Neruda’s green ink of hope,
Will nourish her mind and remind her from where she came.

Nela Bligh


Learner, G. (2010). The agister’s experiment Reading, Two Rivers Press.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Tilly Watson permalink
    March 14, 2012 4:47 pm

    I enjoy reading your blog posts very much, and your poem is beautiful xxx

  2. March 14, 2012 6:12 pm

    Very nice! And sad. You convey your sadness without overwhelming the poem with it, which takes skill. Great job!

  3. August 28, 2014 8:47 am

    Great poem. I sympathise…

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