For Ruth, Wincheap, Canterbury
I offer you an image of beauty
On a card, depicting a horse
Supple-limbed, with a coat ebony-brown,
To tell you this term of trial will pass,
A card and candle to celebrate
The grace and beauty of your warm, lovely smile,
Still shining generous in troubled times,
Through wind-driven storms and across sombre skies.
So, Ruth, stay strong and continue to share
With friends, acquaintances and passers-by
A heart-warming gift, in dark-anxious times,
A smile, that wordless leaves an imprint
Gentle, embracing the beholder,
In a lingering, sweet-soothing glow,
A smile, contagious, bestowing love.
On Canterbury streets, covid-fearful, you will see so many contrasting expressions on faces young, middle-aged, old. Some heads bowed focussed obsessive-compulsive on their mobile phones, immune to their surroundings, sealed-hermatic in a world of their own, as if linked by an invisible umbilical cord to their hand-clasped devices, sometimes stumbling clumsy into a fellow pedestrian unacknowledged, ignored. Other faces wear expressions of cold, hardening indifference, masks habitually worn in a cold, indifferent world, which conversely, at other times, complete strangers exchange quick smiles, responding to the need from moments of casual camaraderie, an antidote to social isolation, a few words, spontaneously shared between strangers, as their paths briefly cross, all the while maintaining the prescribed physical distance, pandemic demanded, but still insistent-intent on keeping spontaneity alive.
The poem you’ve just read, celebrates the enduring capacity for communication and compassionate empathy, that rises above the alienation, all too often characterising societies, fractured by class divisions, racism and a dehumanising profiteering-false individualism, in which the impetus towards holistic community is thwarted, cannot take root and grow without systemic change!
Ruth’s beautiful smile, serene in hard, challenging times, both personal as well as societal, simply demanded to be celebrated; that smile should be afforded the chance to spread benign-contagious far and wide, for it is a smile that has left an indelible imprint on her neighbours, acquaintances and friends, over many decades and through many stormy seasons.
© Hilary Rouse-Amadi