On robins and reincarnations

Posted: April 22, 2016 in Photo Journal

01 saying hello

I saw him first about 2 months ago, flitting about behind the hydrangea bush where Spirit is buried.  But it’s been four months since Footz died so the dug over earth there was hardly fresh enough to still reveal bugs or worms that might pique a robin’s interest.  And because Becky told me about her spiritual awareness of the robins who appear in her life I must admit I kept more of an eye on this visitor.

Many people think of a robin as a merry, red-breasted symbol of Xmas, spreading Yuletide cheer on cards and gift-wrapping.  Perhaps they feel a little sorry for him too; tucking his head under his wing (poor thing!), in the dead of winter as the north wind blows.
Actually robins are fearless combatants.  ‘Painted warriors’ I have read them referred to as, though I would call them gladiators.  They are fiercely territorial and when they fight it is to the death.  When a robin sits on the handle of your fork in your garden it’s because he won them in battle; both the fork and the garden are his by right!

This morning I had to begin the gardening for real.  No more sowing seeds or pruning roses, time to dig!  But I planned a gentle start, just clearing out the onion patch and I knew it would be my first time in the garden without Footz to keep me company.  He would have started the day by waiting for me to lay out his rug, and memories of that sent me back into the house to find it and bring it out ‘as usual’, and when I returned the robin was waiting for me!

02 Spirit's matYou can just about see him in this photo _ stood next to the onion

I do freely admit that I had no reason for doing so but seeing the robin hopping about so close to the rug, I  did make an association between the friend I had buried and the little bird flitting around on his grave, now keeping me company as I gardened.  If nothing else, then rather than just a nagging emptiness, me tying the robin and his rug made feelings of missing Footz subtly bitter-sweet and eventually a joy to behold.

When he wasn’t sunning himself on his rug Footz dug up the garden and generally just got in the way.  Not to be outdone the robin did exactly the same!  Every turned-over trowel of earth had to be investigated, and more than that, while the investigation took place I just had to stay out of his way!

04 in the way

03 prospecting

I couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t take worms.  I threw him one and he cocked his head but only gave it a cursory glance.  But with the next trowel turnover and quick as a flash, in three svelte movements he filled his beak with a black beetle, a tiny millipede and a grub of some sort, before darting away and disappearing.
‘Feeding young,’ I thought.
The worm that I threw him was too much of a mouthful for them.

05 no worms

06 posing on trowel

Gardening got done, but slower than I had planned on this beautiful day.  Strawberries inspected, onions winter-weeded, the clematis on the corner coming into bloom.  I delayed watering the onion-bed so the robin could go over the patch once more if he wanted to.

07 clematis

The last time I saw him he was perched on the baby cherry tree that I recently planted over in dog-poo corner.
‘Nice tree,’ I could have sworn I heard Footz tell me, before cocking his leg at it and disappearing.
God-willing, it seems that I will still have some company in the garden this year   ; )

08 cherry tree


Lisa or Maria

Posted: April 4, 2016 in memories

i don’t remember if her name was Lisa or Maria
a young wife and mother with her husband & two children
who had retreated into the mountains to face her terminal cancer

i was introduced to them_ i think
because having lost my partner only months before
and alone now with our young son
perhaps i might know what to say

she broke every barrier that men and women live by
bitter against a Life that would be so cruel
and so open too with the joy of her children and her handsome man

sometimes the depth and range of our shared pain
might even have been gossiped in the villages as attraction or passion
but not by her gentle husband nor by our innocent children
with whom we shared and laughed and cried _

who but our loved ones mattered ?

Kazantzakis wrote that our planet Earth
careering headlong on a course around our Sun
turns so violently and imperfectly
bright glowing sparks fly burning off the side _
each spark is one of us and has a duty
to meet the other fleeting sparks
to prove that in this moment
i exist and you exist

in the collective insanity of a celebrated Saint’s Day
in the darkness of the village night_ lit by lanterns
as the retsina the violin and the clarinet rewound all of our passion
louder and higher and tighter
we two linked arms and broke the rules of traditional single male Zeibekiko
and the villagers watched in awe and then joined us
until a long line of linked humanity was dancing

we faced the insanity of living and dying together
and for those fleeting sparking moments our passion
enveloped them all until they were leading us _
the line of reveling villagers danced
onward onto a precipice still dancing
upward_ to above the height of their houses
and onward_ along the narrow top of an upright bench
backed right onto the cliff edge_ still dancing
where one false move would have dragged us all to oblivion
and realizing this we laughed_ still dancing

smiling into each other’s eyes_ witnessing the spark
shared in the collective insanity it had ignited
laughing in the face of the uncertainty that it led us to
dancing _

Shiva dances this way as well
Creator and Destroyer of our temporary moments_
Beginning and eternally Ending

i can’t remember if she was Lisa or Maria
(it never mattered!)
i will not forget the spark of her fleeting existence
nor the compelling carefree insanity of our laughter that night
at the Life and the Death in our dance


Orchid Story

Posted: April 27, 2015 in Photo Journal

Out on the trail Spirit & I normally go through this part of the fence _ I climb over and hold up the wire _ then he stoops down to crawl under _


Usually we veer to the right straight away but yesterday the voice inside said ‘go left’
and as soon as that decision was made the word ‘orchid’ popped into my head!

Once the traverse was completed by both of us we turned towards the bottom left corner of the field that was decked out with bluebells _


and looking back to where we had entered the field _


Spirit doesn’t mind waiting for photos to be taken but not happy when they’re taken of him!


We often see deer at this end of the field from a distance _
I’m fairly sure these markings on the tree bark were made by them _

As I examined them closer I looked down and stepped back_ realising I’d almost trodden on an orchid!

I tried to look them up on the internet but apparently they are difficult to identify _
This from one page I found_
“Spotted Orchids _ Seven species of the genus Dactylorhiza. These are the so called “spotted” orchids which are often difficult to tell apart being quite variable in colour and having a tendency to hybridize freely!”
Find out more about them here

The gentle slope of the field heads down to the valley floor and there was a colony of orchids all along the bottom bank _





I could feel the last one I spotted beckoning to me and imploring I take a photo because it was quite the prettiest of them all _

So I maneuvered myself to get the best angle and looking up realised I was gazing at that part of the field where we entered_ traversing the fence _ and back to where this Orchid Story began!


The Hunter for The Perfect

Posted: April 6, 2014 in memories, opinions

outside the workhouse walls of industrialized society
beyond the state-indoctrinated vassal mindset_
this wonderous gift_ the teeming experience of Life itself
is imbued with an awesome magic and mystery
that should be every human’s birthright

the rules of daily life have not changed out here_
human toil is still rewarded with food and shelter
we wake we sleep _ we laugh and cry _
our emotional entanglements continue
filling every thought and heart and waking hour _
what has gone is the profit-driven relentlessness_
the exhausting rigidity
which shrouds our wealth of all possibilities
and stifles the asynchronous spontaneity inherent to our nature

back then i was in the fifth or sixth year of single parenthood
a responsibility both halved and doubled_ simultaneously _
our lives bereft of pretty much everything a woman would give
and locked just then in Dickens’ best and worst of times _
my Anglo-American son unrecognised by my own country
his father unable to live or work in the US
and in an old Greek farmhouse a mile outside of town
where our lemon grove ran all the way down to the sea
we lived alone

working three jobs was not working for either of us _
as the weeks of winter ran on_ month past month
all the events of recent years
which had chased us to this time and place
were finally gathering together to crowd in on me _
till one evening when i’d put him to bed
and still unwashed unfed and in my work clothes_
i tiredly sat at my tall full-sized architect’s desk
leafing back through the starkness of blank page after page
in the diaries i had so far kept religiously
recording the years of his childhood and all our adventures

to this day i am certain that’s what did it_
i lay my head down on my folded arms over the diary and the desk
and sobbed uncontrollably for what felt like hours _
i hardly moved from that position till morning
and the whole night was so inconsolably dark and lonely
even remembering it now makes me wary of that same despair
returning this very night to haunt my desk again

do not question this _
how we awoke or what words we shared
how i prepared us both for another day _
all i remember is overwhelming hopelessness_
my deep sense that somewhere on our shared journey
i had completely lost my own way

outside_ as we climbed on the motorbike to ride to school
bright sunshine had begun melting the clouds away to herald the ‘halcyon days’
a window in mid winter which_ according to legend
the gods had granted to the alkiones
to settle their nests and lay their eggs on the cliff-sides
without fear of losing either to a winter’s ferociousness
flung at their fragile bodies with wind and waves

the pervasiveness of that sunlight
was set to change the day completely
but on that morning the darkness in my soul had not altered_
lost in the short goodbye i gave my son
lost to the world and to my self as well

instead of waiting in the little taxi boat
to be caught up in local passengers unwanted conversation_
i chose to sit alone on the windy deck of the car ferry _
my destination away from work and towards some kind of salvation
browsing the meagre English language offerings in the island bookshop

tourist spots of the Mediterranean
are laid out pretty much the same for winter as well as summer _
the uniform code for cafeterias is a variation on
single leg tables with shiny metallic surfaces
set out in almost regular patterns
populated by plastic chairs moulded in unnatural colours
often roofed over by canvas awnings _
between these rows of chairs and tables
and the cafes and storefronts behind them
runs a thoroughfare wide enough
for smart looking waiters carrying shoulder high trays
to negotiate their way through a mainstream of window-shoppers_
gawking from one souvenir trap to the next
holding up the pedestrian traffic
while they work out the value of the coins in their hands
and where they lost their companions or their passports

i looked out along the wide empty thoroughfare
as the brightness of that sunlight dazzled the metal tables
piercing its way through gaps between the wind tugged awnings _
i could see the stark difference between winter and summer
in the absence of all those people _
that deserted scene was just fine by me
as i entered the dimly lit bookstore

‘the proprietor’ is probably best nomenclature
for the old gentleman_ ever present behind the counter
tall bespectacled and balding_ always in a suit and a tie_
the most English looking Greek i’ve ever met _
he’d not have looked out of place either seated or standing in a commuter train!
over two summers i’d heard him respond
in four or five languages to tourist questions
but though i had tried in English & Greek i’d finally given up as ‘lost cause’
getting more than a terse Good Morning from him

so on this_ my darkest of days i did not bother at all _
turned my back on him
perused the covers of Time and Newsweek
leafed through the pages of Scientific American
glanced at the photos in National Geographic _
could not afford any of them on this visit
i could not give a damn for them either

there was nothing worth buying
no thing worth reading_ nothing to inspire _
no thing worth thinking about except my own dismal hopelessness
reflected back at me from the blurred converging sentences
the two dimensional faces in grainy photographs

“i discovered a new word last night”

i ask you_ in all the universe
is there a better lifeline you could think of
to cast out to a drowning poet?

he said it in English
and since i was the only one present he was speaking to me _
without any concious decision i looked round and walked towards his counter _
“a new word” he repeated_ as though he could not believe it himself
for the first time ever i saw his smile_  the wonder and mirth in his eyes

“τελειοΘυρας” he said_ now beaming with pleasure

he paused before saying the word ‘teleothiras’ again
almost an incantation
“do you know what it means?” he asked _
before i could answer he gestured with his hand
his upturned fingers and thumb closing together
in a French Italian expression for exquisite quality _
and probably the most Mediterranean thing i’d ever seen him do

“The Hunter for The Perfect” he almost whispered
he paused again_ waiting for the phrase to dawn on me _

as soon as it touched me it blossomed
a lotus flower surrounding itself with endlessly merging mandalas _
the Wheel of Life revolving between Darkness and Light
where the only True Path leads us on a search for answers
the only Purity of Heart Mind and Soul
measurable in our dedicated determination to search ever further!

The Hunter for The Perfect_ i heard myself say

i asked him to repeat the word so i could remember it
and all of a sudden he was talking enthusiastically_
fast words spilling out of him_ speaking like a natural Greek!
he came round the corner of the counter and took my arm
leading me towards the door
telling me he would soon be retiring
speaking about everything while i dazedly listened
unable to assimilate what was happening so abruptly _
outside the store he stopped and he seemed to realise my shock
he was locking the door but he looked at me and repeated_ “τελειοΘυρας

he took my hand and raised it up_ joined to his
“‘Πες το!” he said_ “Say it!”
as i repeated the word he began to lead me into traditional Greek dance
we moved together along the deserted thoroughfare_ dancing!

i say it to myself now as i remember the moment
under the awnings as we moved_ dappled and dazzled by shafts of light _
i think i said the word over and over
or maybe it was just repeating itself in my mind
and all the while he was laughing_ grinning like Pan
and stepping the steps of the dance_ encouraging me to do the same _
together_ out from from under the the shade of the awnings we danced_
into the bright and blinding sunlight we danced!
we danced

………we danced

the last time i ever saw him
he was smiling brightly and waving goodbye
half-hidden in the glaring clarity of that amazing sunlight _
i wandered away from the tables and chairs
towards the row of little taxi boats bobbing up and down at the quayside _
i didn’t mind waiting with others or talking
i had been given what i was so desperately looking for
girded with The Hunter for The Perfect_ what darkness could haunt me now ?

back on the mainland
i took the motorbike and waited in the church square for school to finish
cold in the winter breeze_ squinting from the sunlight_
under the plane trees still stripped of their leaves _
i found a twenty drachma coin in my pocket_ by itself it_ worthless
and i still had no idea what we would eat that night _
a young gypsy woman came begging so laughing i offered her the coin
told her she could probably do more with it than me _
a reaction she wasn’t used to_ i’m sure
she paused for a moment_ staring at me suspiciously
before taking everything i had to give

after school we took the rest of the day just for us_
in the evening we visited friends who lived a little distance along the beach
where we talked about hunting for the perfect
and we dined on the fish they had caught that day

lessons learned

Posted: February 23, 2014 in memories, thoughts

if patterns are not just contrivances
then one of them running intermittently throughout my life
has made me a part of and a witness to
the ending of days

an era_ an institution _ a way of living _
not that i see myself as a harbinger
although others involved_ indeed more than i
might argue with the certainty of my assertion _
i suppose their opinions have reasons which belong to themselves
but perhaps it’s because i seem to depart the stage they’re still standing on
just before the final curtain

when we returned to England
i took my son to visit my old boarding school _
a friend offered to organise him into being a boarder elsewhere
and though the decision to stay or go was his
it provided a good enough reason to show him Midhurst

here was the block-cobbled yard and the huge chestnut tree standing over
there were the steps outside the double oak doors
i’d first been greeted on by the housemaster and his snuffling Pekingese_
now leading to the public waiting area for the local council
whilst our dormitories had all become offices

so we didn’t go in
and my son never saw the oak hall
nor the dark wooden staircases we pupils weren’t allowed on
sweeping down the curved walls to meet half-way_
below the vast latticed window with the stained-glass school badge and motto_
then descending to the hall with all that double-width grandeur
reminiscent of a bygone age

instead we stood outside and he patiently listened
while i recalled those heydays of the summer of ’76
when we’d acted as guides to US tourists
and i took pleasure in congratulating them
for the bicentenial of their nation
before politely noting that our school was somewhat older

then_ no doubt waving my arms_
i pointed to the rooves we’d gotten into trouble for exploring
and to half a dozen windows as well_
trying to remember the ancient cities
whose names were ingloriously revived
as labels for the rooms we had slept in _
Carthage Thebes and Troy_ even mighty Rome itself !

but above them all
and it seemed to me_ on a floor of its own
was the tiny window looking in and out of the space
shared by the prefects of ‘upper 6th’ _
behind those panes of glass were most of my memories

as ‘4th years’ we were forbidden by the staff to be in there
however for a group of misfits and miscreants this was our bolt-hole
so exclusive it was that it was rarely visited even by masters
Mick Stephenson Clive Rowley Duncan Waltham
Kevin and Nigel Stokes who were not related
some 5th formers too_ i’m sure _ but no-one below 4th _
it seemed to me that anyone who was frowned upon
was allowed to knock and gain entrance on most days after school_
but why on earth did Burfield and Gregory and Trussler decide upon us?

the first time i was admitted i was simply following Mick
because he had a cigarette we could smoke before tea _
but as more visits happened it gradually dawned on me
i was allowed in on my own as ‘persona grata’
and the hunt for tobacco became less and less important

i was introduced to David Bowie in there
and his ‘Five Years’ bid me confront myself
in a scene from The End Of The World
Tull’s ‘Aqualung’ was the first LP i ever bought
after reading and listening to the lyrics in that room _
for the very first time in my life
the wings i had felt for so long in my mind took flight _
i don’t think i said very much
(the maik who i am today was only beginning)
but i listened to everything
enlivened intelligent intellectual conversation
that made us soar a whole mountain’s peak higher
than the pretentious and banal dictatorship
lorded over by the masters below and the bullies of my own year

we had just that half hour to escape before tea_
then unwillingly we descended
down narrow precipitous stairs designed for servants_
into the purgatory of that system _
and i remember now as i write these words
how with innocent enthusiasm i’d invited one or two friends to climb up with me _
they declined hastily and i sensed they were suspicious or afraid
which surprised me because i never felt anything like that

i think i saw Martin Burfield act out his role as head boy only once _
at six every week day we would cross the oak hall
to arrange ourselves in rows on old wooden benches _
the masters who chose to attend
would stand at the back or sit in chairs at the front _
and there we would wait in near silence for the housemaster
accompanied sometimes by his wife and the Pekingese

if his wife was there then he was sober and the meeting was usually short
we could breathe a collective sigh of relief
before returning to our own affairs on the other side of the hall

but when he was drunk it was comedy _
he would slur his words and repeat them
while we looked at each other and sniggered
more alert to the masters behind us than what he was trying to say _
but when he picked on boys_ making them stand while he harangued them
then it was no longer funny and we wondered who would be next

i don’t remember the cause but one night he picked on Burfield
and Martin refused neither to stand nor remain silent _
with a quiet but relentless insistence
he exposed the weakness of the argument_ and of the housemaster
who even drunk recognised he was losing_
so he told us all to get out
but Martin looked over and said without any emotion ‘stay seated’
which is what we did _
the masters behind us said not a word
until finally the housemaster left the room first and alone
with his Pekingese snuffling along behind him

it would take a story to tell how much i learned that evening _
my admiration for everything i witnessed became a foundation
upon which much of my life has been drawn and built _
after a moment taken up by the masters_
to stare bemused at each other
we were told to leave quietly

i wanted to stay and listen to the conversation behind us
between Burfield and the other masters_
i wanted to hear every word of what he was telling them

Martin Burfield and John Gregory left at the end of that year _
John Trussler was moved to a dormitory_ in charge of the younger boys _
whatever happened to the room at the top_ i wasn’t any part of it
for the rest of my time at Midhurst Grammar
i found every valid reason and excuse that i could
to not be there at all

bullet holes

Posted: February 19, 2014 in memories

i wasn’t directly responsible for the bullet holes
in the deputy headmaster’s door

he was my math teacher
beet red face_ big nose and bristling moustaches
like a sergeant major with a voice matching his demeanour
and a fearsome reputation for corporal punishment we reckoned he took pride in _
to a man_ our class was terrified of him

after lunchtimes he was usually six sheets to the wind anyway
but on the Monday afternoon Britain went decimal
Mr Penny swayed into the door of the maths room where we waited
and staggered down to the store cupboard without saying a word_
rummaging about noisily he brought out a gross of 12inch rulers
then he stumbled up and down the aisles of our desks
snapping the rulers in half one by one
dropping the broken pieces all over the floor _
he explained with quite a bit of colourful language
that we wouldn’t need foot long rulers any more

we were 13 & 14 year old tearaways
but i don’t recall any of us laughing _
so finally disgusted with himself and with us
most of all with the new decimal system
he crashed down into his chair
and flung the surviving rulers across his desk

i have to admit _ and without exaggeration
by the time Mr Penny’s patience snapped
our school was riddled with bullet holes _
few windows in the two storey building escaped the maelstrom
lockers _ desks _ classroom and toilet doors
boys were daring each other where to stick them next _
they came in strips of four in a row
a promotional see-through transfer with the petrol company logo as well
we knew which garage to go and beg them from
and on the day the promotion was over
three of us just happened to be there
in the right place _ at the wrong time

my locker was loaded with boxes full of bullet holes
i had transferred all the usual bric a brac
probably unwashed sports clothes and etcetera
even a few school text books i’m sure
to another lad’s cupboard he rented me for a box of 25 sheets _

for two or three days i was pestered by everyone
both before and after school_
break times_ and most of all between classes
there’d be a crowd of boys at my locker
where we swapped boxes or bunches of stickers
for everything a schoolboy could imagine _
in my defence_ i was completely overwhelmed
it was the only time in my life i ever cornered a market
and the trade didn’t stop until the morning of reckoning

Mr Penny descended on the school like a demon possessed by a man
he planted himself in the central corridor_
even redder with his screaming and shouting_
driving everyone before him into the school hall _
teachers and pupils alike_ no-one tried to stop him
he climbed onto the stage and promptly declared an amnesty
to all those who surrendered their bullet holes
on the single condition they surrendered them_
‘right here right now’

for more than ten seconds no-one moved
no way in the world would anyone be first to approach him !
everything would be fine_ i was sure of it
until the kid in front of me swung round
wanting to unswap his best pen for the stickers he held in his hand
i tried to silence him but he was insistent
when i looked up every face was turned in our direction _

i felt every set of eyes in that school hall
staring only at me
and stood over them all on the stage_ Mr Penny

The Flow begins…..

Posted: February 16, 2014 in memories

St Valentine’s Night _ Full Moon & Candlelight

my mother had written before to tell me she’d suffered a stroke _
it had been years since i’d heard from her and we never got on
but after a couple of days of thinking and feeling guilty about her letter
i wrote back_ asking her if i should come home

i was surprised by the speed of her reply_
of my children you are the only one still looking at the stars_ don’t turn back for me _
and she asked me if there was anything i needed

was she thinking and feeling more guilty than me?
Heaven knows she had good reason to feel bad
about all her children _
so i asked her for a typewriter
the buying and the international postage would help her feel better_ i thought

some weeks later Michalis our young postman
drove past the house in his Sherwood green pick-up
honking his horn as he went by _
this was the best he could do rather than stop on the impossible slope
his way of telling me to meet him in the village square
several hundred feet up the mountainside _

Michalis was always too taciturn for his young age
and lazy even by Greek standards
but he’d been more respectful of me since i’d told him off
not opening the postbox in the square for more than a month _
he’d lost the keys but i insisted he force the box there and then
and with a jemmy that i provided for him _
the bottom sprang open
and all the letters i’d written since Christina died
and all the coins i’d posted in the box for stamps
fell at our feet _
it was me_ not him_ who gathered them up
but i gave him an earful as i did it
then i handed him the pile of maybe twenty envelopes
and all the coins as well_ with a solemn glare

by the time i’d walked up the impossible slope
there were 6-7 locals and most of the children of the village
gathered around Michalis’ pick-up _
in the back was a large carton bearing a WH Smith logo
and the image of a typewriter that covered the whole top of the box _
after i’d explained to them why i needed something
as outlandish as a typewriter in our distant rural community
i realised it was the first time my neighbours
had been given the knowledge i was a writer _
several of the younger children followed me
as i carried the box down the hill to the house

the arrival of the typewriter changed the way the villagers dealt
with the ‘xenos’ who lived and worked with them _
and it changed the way i dealt with my mother as well _
from then on these mountain folk shared their lives with me
as though i was expected to make a record of them _
at weddings and wakes i would be caught in the gaze of this person
or the open stare of another_ looking at me meaningfully_
are you getting all this?  writer _
as collectively as when we ploughed together or harvested our various crops
they never hid their expectation of me

as for me_ i was so impressed by what my mother had done
i rushed to too many conclusions _
i took the presence of the typewriter
and my mother’s reference to not turning back
as evidence she had understood something of her son _
henceforth everything important i wrote
poetry_ notes_ the completed and edited chapters of half-written novels
i made certain to send my mother a copy of ‘everything important’

i never received any acknowledgment
not for the writing i sent her
nor the unagreed covenant i built between us _
in the following years my son and i moved so often
i felt more akin to the local gypsies
than the inhabitants of towns and hamlets in which we replanted ourselves _
and more and more i took it for granted
that i now had written copies with my mother _
this knowledge became the deciding factor
in what was taken or left behind as we moved on

it was more than a decade before i knocked on my mother’s door
to tell her i was back
introduce her to the teenage grandson she’d never met _
i asked her about all my writings and i apologised for encumbering her with so much
and i remember her cheerful reply_ as clear as a tolling bell
though i don’t recall very much of what happened straight after _
oh i never kept any of that
i did read some of it and i really liked it
did you want me to keep it for you?

in movies i’ve seen people standing in lines
desperate to withdraw their life-savings from a collapsing bank _
twice i’ve witnessed the same thing in real life as well
the shock in those eyes is palpable
everything they thought they had tucked away safely
has suddenly gone

my mother
certainly has much she should be ashamed of in her life
but not this _
this was solely my own conceit
groundlessly contrived during ‘the years of travel’
because it was most convenient
to shoulder that responsibility onto someone else

be that as it may_ it took me at least two years
to recover from my sense of loss