Tag Archives: poetry

Dad – “People and Passion”.

I’ve been photographing Dad doing his everyday “thing” as part of a university multimedia project called “People and Passion”. He talks about his career and his thoughts as an actor and guru of poetry.

Here’s one that I think is likely to make the edit.

© Amy Romer 2015

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‘a poem inspired by a photo’ Robert Vieira – Death’s Birthday

Last night I did my last email check before going to bed (at this stage of the day it’s very rare I have any mail!) and to my surprise and delight I had a message from Robert Vieira with the subject: ‘a poem inspired by a photo’.

I have since learned that Robert has written around 800 short poems over the past 15 years and writes incredibly quickly (to my mind, as it will probably be 30 minutes before I send this blog post!) when he is inspired.

So it is my honour to share Robert’s poem, written on the 15th October 2014 in response to my photograph of Jean from Longevity:

Last Days

Death’s Birthday

My deathing day becomes younger all the time

As we move, more wrinkled, to the ending moment

Time is compressed and one day we will be dressed

In a way that hopefully allows us to see the infant day

The one day old looking back

The day before the end

And we will raise our eyes

Should they still move

To think about the ties of youthful times

When the deathing day was far off

When death only visited the aged

When death was much older

More removed from the leaves in which we walked

Heedless of the portent and the meaning

Of their crispy crunching under foot

Let us gather now the broken leaves of these dry days

And make bouquets for the birth of death

One day someone’s tears will make them memories of green

Copyright © 2014 by Robert Vieira all rights reserved. Image: © 2014 by Amy Romer all rights reserved

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Main content: before and after.

As mentioned in the previous post, I had written the story of Longevity around Christmas time for a publication in 205dpi magazine. When piecing the imagery and words together for myself, it became clearer to me that I needed to make some changes.

I had never explained mine and my father’s relationship to Hugh and Jean, and referring to my family as ‘the Romer’s…’ suggests that I am not one of them. I think this is because I started writing the story in third person and soon realise that I didn’t have a story without talking more personally about it.

It’s easy to forget that the person reading has no idea about the story and although I got three people that I consider better than me at English to proof read it, they all knew my relationship with Hugh and Jean and therefore also didn’t pick up on the fact I hadn’t included it in my story – it was already assumed.

There are other tweaks I have made, just for the sake of improving the writing and the explanation. I found that when I tried to add additional pieces of description, I was disrupting the flow of the reading but hopefully the subtle changes I’ve made are improvements if anything.

Before

Hugh Romer, 91 has lived at Mortlake Road in Kew for most of his lifetime. He and his wife Jean will be the last of the Romer’s to occupy the family house.

During countless visits over years past, it was always clear to me that Hugh was the dominant spouse. This was partly because of Jean’s mental disability, which resulted in electroshock treatment during her forties, to which Hugh is confident that the hospital most certainly “overdid it”.

Hugh would not only take charge of the house but being a former engineer for the BBC, he would gladly attend to any necessary maintenance, whether it meant repairing years of damage caused from stick bombs during the war or channeling rain water from the roof to flow collectively into the garden pond.

He would lead my father and me with Jean by his side around the grand Victorian house, telling us tales about my father’s Great-great relatives through photographs and portrait paintings that still hang in the hallway. He would then take us into the garden and unveil evidence of my Grandfather’s zoological fascination as a boy, which would eventually lead to his dedicated career.

In 2009, Hugh suffered from kidney failure and was unwilling to make repeated trips to hospital for dialysis. He has since been diagnosed with dementia, which is now at its advanced stages.

Today, they are both bedroom bound. Jean will answer the door to regular visits from day carers, who take notes on the their condition.

Their bedroom is filled with memories, of which neither recall, and flowers, which wilt unnoticed.

The house remains unchanged since 2009 but it is cold and dark now. Their electric blankets and a small fan heater keep them warm. The light beyond the window keeps them awake, until it fades and then they sleep.

After

Hugh and Jean Romer are both in their nineties and have recently celebrated their golden wedding anniversary. He and Jean are the third generation to occupy our family house, and they will be the last.

My father visits his Uncle Hugh often, and I do when I can. We both admire them and are saddened for them as they enter their last days together; and as a house once rich with memories is reduced to wclosed doors and dark halls.

During countless visits over years past, it was always clear to me that Hugh was the dominant spouse. This was partly because of Jean’s mental health condition, which resulted in electroshock treatment during her forties, to which Hugh is confident that the hospital “most certainly overdid it”.

Hugh would not only take charge of the house but being a former engineer for the BBC, he would gladly attend to all the necessary maintenance, whether it meant repairing years of damage caused by stick bombs during the war or channeling rain water from the roof to flow collectively into the garden pond.

He would lead my father and me with Jean by his side around the grand Victorian house, telling us stories about my father’s great-great relatives through photographs and portrait paintings that still hang in the hallway. The on to the garden, where Hugh would unveil evidence of my Grandfather’s zoological fascination as a boy, which would eventually lead to his dedicated career.

In 2009, Hugh suffered from kidney failure and was unwilling to make repeated trips to hospital for dialysis. He has since been diagnosed with dementia, which is now at its advanced stages.

Although they are mostly bedroom bound, Jean uses her stair-lift to answer the door to carers, who take notes on the their condition.

Their bedroom is filled with memories, of which neither recall, and flowers, which wilt unnoticed.

The house remains unchanged since 2009 but it is cold and dark now. Their electric blankets and a small fan heater keep them warm. The light beyond the window keeps them awake, until it fades and then they sleep.

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