This week’s poem, ‘A Dying Race’ by Andrew Motion, has been chosen by Mary Grehan, Arts in Health Curator for Children’s Health Ireland.
How could we feel loss if we did not love what is gone in the first place? And so the feeling of loss is a manifestation of love; it brings love into sharp focus as we see in this stunningly beautiful poem by Andrew Motion in which he reflects on his father’s unfaltering devotion to his sick mother.
The poet has an aching respect for his father, the kind of respect that comes with middle age when you are old enough to have grappled with just some of the challenges your parents did and know that there are more to come.
I did not choose this poem with Covid in mind but on rereading it, it seems to fit the situation we now find ourselves in. The poet’s mother is effectively quarantined, and his father takes her ‘each broken-off day as a present’, and in doing so, he offers her the best version of himself, as the role of caring demands us to do.
The poet too is at a remove from his parents and this distance that has been visited upon all of us in recent weeks brings with it new insight and a fresh humility – we are no longer in control and the future is uncertain.