Gill Ward’s Poem Of The Week – ‘Palimpsest’

This week’s poem is by Damian Ruth. I have heard Damian read his poems at Poets to the People over several years. I always appreciated what he wrote and how he wrote it.

We became friends and shared ideas about poetry and our poems. When he read this poem
recently I was fascinated by his explanation of the poem so he has written the background
for me. Lovely to learn new things! 
From South Africa to Aotearoa

Damian was born in South Africa and has been an educator of one kind or another for decades, and in New Zealand for the last 20 years.

Now home is Paekakariki

He lives in Paekakariki and lectures atMassey University. This poem is from his anthology On Edge published by mHeadworX,Wellington. 2017. 

Scraped again

Palimpsestos means “scraped again”; in ancient times when parchment was expensive anddifficult to make, earlier writings would be scraped or washed off and the page overwritten.

The evidence of previous work was rarely completely eradicated. I am interested in how stories get retold and, in the retelling, become new but carry the past within them.

This is especially true of family legends like – “Do you remember when she first saw —– and just about —–?” It is also true of how we come to terms with life’s little and shattering

By Damian Ruth

 Your story trickles   
down your cheeks;    
the page stays blank   
but watermarked.   
Eventually the    
watermarks will be    
behind another story    
the pages carry   
a story that hides secrets   
but lets them travel.   
The story of your    
untold soul sets sail across   
surfaces beyond   
the secret that you    
hide and in the telling embed   
the clues required   
for exposure will   
call forth the kindred spirit    
to decipher it.   
All will be well, all   
will be well; all manner of    
things will be well, there   

is another page   
a gain; a loss; another   
meeting still to be   
your story that will  
one day trickle  
down your cheeks.

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