Love After Love by Derek Walcott

Our piano stool had a foam-padded seat, sheathed with red leatherette. And before we sat, we opened up the bevelled lid on its hinges and shuffled among the sheaves for the grade book to do our practice. Sitting squished out the air from the coffin-cover like a fart, and with the book placed on the music stand, it was now time to push back the folding cover of our Kemble upright, and begin our practice.

As I remember it, ‘piano lessons’ was one of the refinements meant to occupy my pre-teen and teenage years away from hormonal distractions and vanities such as cosmetics. By no means did I turn out to be a musician. Nonetheless, in every path I’ve walked, the rudiments of music (and so indeed the red-covered theory book was named) have stood me in good stead.

Soothe me, Music, Soothe Me – Living adds up more than you think, and for me, ‘the rudiments of music’ music is just one palimpsest.

Re-visitations like these become more discernible as the circle closes, usually because of their link to some event. For me, it is that, at present, in a far-off time and place, weekly I download a keyboard to do my TCS practice.

Thus my mindful recall of “Love After Love” by Derek Walcott:

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Derek Walcott


What better way not only to appreciate a founding poet, but also to pay homage to those who took great pains to shape my wilful spirit.


Cynthia James – April 2016

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