Ode to Compassion

When you are old,
re-spin me your beginnings

from their Greek and Irish
coordinates, unplot straight lines

of ancient made-up histories,
upend the stakes of claims in bindings

of your mother’s mother’s mother’s womb
cut and spilling life into care.

When you are grey,
recall me to the look of the father

for his daughters not your sons,
your pock-mocked map we carried fixed

into our futures, cardinal points worn
dim but steadfast ever in their tending to

of place, where time’s and the body’s limits
join the suffering together and to death.

When you are old and grey and full
of sleep, speak to me no more of forgiveness.

–Maureen Doallas, from her newly released book, Neruda’s Memoirs.

I have been a fan of Maureen Doallas for a number of years, primarily through her very popular blog, Writing Without Paper. I was so pleased when I heard that she would have a volume of her poetry published. Her work deserves to be read, thought about, engaged with and shared.

Maureen has one of those minds that can penetrate a variety of disciplines with amazing alacrity, passion and depth. In that sense she is a far cry from the isolated poet who is hermited away in her study. All her writing reflects the fullness with which she approaches life. Her knowledge of poetry is enhanced and deepened by her expertise in writing prose, visual art, politics, spirituality, philosophy, religious practices, travel, science, business, human potential. She is both fascinating and fascinated, a rare quality in one individual.