Living with the Truth Stranger than Fiction This Is Not About What You Think Milligan and Murphy Making Sense

Sunday, 22 January 2017


Tunnel of Love

Love is not a thing you fall into
but an experience you go through
like a long tunnel.

Sometimes I just like to sit
in the dark in ours and pretend
I don't see the light at the end.

26 September 1989
Endings aren’t very popular. They remind of the finitude of things. They remind us we’re not immortal. I knew what I had with B. wouldn’t—couldn’t—last forever. Perhaps that’s why I was so desperate to milk every moment. Did I know in September 1989 she was thinking about getting married? I can't remember now. On 29th October 1989 I wrote my last poem for her. And then nothing for seven months and then nothing for a year.
I’m fifty-seven years old and when I look back all I see are closed doors. There’s no point opening them because there’s nothing on the other side. These few poems are all I managed to salvage.


vito pasquale said...

It's often difficult to call a poem with much sadness written by a friend, "wonderful." Even if the poem is a complete invention of the imagination just knowing the poet visited a sad place makes it hard to fully get around the sentiments. Your poem is wonderful. It is sad and articulate on so many levels. Long tunnels, lights or otherwise at the end, rarely lead to paradise, do they?

It's such an amazing journey though your poetry that you've shared these past years. I'm so pleased to be able to gain another insight a couple times each week.

Jim Murdoch said...

This is definitely one of my favourite poems, Vito. I also think it’s one of my best because of its universality. There won’t be many out there who haven’t realised they were sitting in a tunnel like this. I’m in one now. We all are. This, everything that surrounds me right now, will end. The fish died, the bird will die, Carrie will die and I will too. In my head I’m the last. What I find hard now thinking back is how little I actually remember of the late eighties. I would’ve thought that intensity and clarity would go hand in hand but they don’t. B. is now purely a work of fiction. I suspect that’s all she ever was. She existed almost exclusively in my head, an idealised version of a pretty, soft-spoken girl who used to visit.

vito pasquale said...

I can't think of a more beautiful phrase than the one that ends what you've written here. . . A pretty, soft-spoken girl who used to visit.

This is one of the poems that the future needed. Some person in the future needs to read this and hold on to that girl forever and thank you every minute for the advice.

It's a wonderful poem. Did I say that already?

Jim Murdoch said...

It’s easy to romanticise all this, Vito, but the fact is I was having an emotional affair with B. She wasn’t what caused F. and I to break up—she was well out of the picture by then—but what she did do was underline that F. was unable to meet certain of my needs. B. wasn’t the answer. Nor were any of the others and there were a lot of women in my life at that time. From each I took a little something. That’s what my poem ‘Vampires Anonymous’ (#904) is acknowledging. I may have written it ten years after this but I was remembering this time, this side of me. I would never seriously argue for polygyny because I think most men who enter into these kinds of relationships do it for the wrong reasons but I’m also not entirely convinced there’s a soul mate out there who can complete us; it’s always a trade-off. I actually sympathise with those man in the bar who says his wife don’t understand him because she probably doesn’t and he probably doesn’t understand her either and the woman he’s trying to seduce may understand where he’s coming from, what he’s after and how it’ll all end in tears but it passes the time. It’s not the answer but as I say in Left: “Questions spoil things. Answers ruin them.”

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