Colouring Memory          (for my father)

Closer then: … the lines that described you were sharper,

Colours fitted neatly.

Reflections brought a warmth to me

and if I reached out, I could almost touch you

as you were brought back to me in shades of bracken, gorse and the flowering heather from your cherished hills, sunlit.

That sharpness hurt, rent my soul, and for that I loved you more.

After the sting, came your face

like a Rembrandt portrait informing of every emotion I remember in you,

and occasionally a tear.


Closer now: … the lines have become Giacometti’s, bountiful but vague,

memory calls you forth from the marks and scars of reminiscence,

Colours are dull days, sea mist and over ripe fruit.

The failings, once veiled by love

emerge now to eat at past pleasures.

Your gone now, it is harder to hide them.

Disappointments and preferences, yours and my own enter the fray 

and it is hard, their appearance confuses

and subdues the brightness that was before. Am I loosing you?

I still love you.


Now: … Mnemosyne resolves all to bring me the man,

I am reconciled. The picture is no longer sharp, but it is strong and honest,

there is no more hurt, a wish some things had been other, yes,

but life, living and remembering are three very different hues.

Wakened by any small spark the magician within recalls you, no picture now,

only shades of emotion, affinity, affection, belonging, calm.

A love of the right thing and your fellow man marked you out,

these are two gifts amongst others for which I will be eternally grateful.

You were… just a man, remembering you I know myself.

I love you.


Malcolm J. Tait


You said you were going, …. but I didn’t hear the  closing door,                             

Together we wove the cloth we must each wear,

eager for unspoiled but mostly achieving the unmade bed,

furrowed and stained.

Still we keep weaving.

Choices made, awoken chances,  with all the weavers from eternity

conspiring to deliver or deny desires,

bringing tragedy and joy,

torment and grace.

We keep searching, weaving.

What is it you are looking for? What is it you want?


You said you were going, …..  the door closed gently.                                            

To mend a troubled thought, there is always something,

Always, and never quite finished - sometimes you just have to let go.

Everyone has there own measure

and though we all live in the same weft,

wealthy and poor grieve

Learned and learner err,

We all succeed,  fail and  fall,

the brave along with the rest of us fear.

Strive for better yes, but don’t loose sight of me

and …. loose not sight of the good you do,

you are loved.


You said you were going, ….  I could feel the closing door,                                   

you were hesitant,

We had talked, but certainty was lost in awkwardness,

gravity in the lateness of the hour

and I did not see the pain in the words you spoke,

I caught only a small glimpse of the sorrow.

I did see the anger, the injustice felt,

the rest just a brave front, from someone I knew.

You hurt so much, yet I could not see,….. then …..

you were gone.

Are you gone?

Why do we hurt so?


Malcolm J Tait

 A Starling     (the shape of the text hints at a murmuration of starlings)


                                                                  A  vagrant ….  hellion …. no

                                       Reconsider your dreams,  .. think again,  .. look again     

                                             see the colours and shapes that I bring to being.

      Iridescent hues of lilacs, greens and blue, all concealed within dull expectation.               

                                                             Patterns, … born in the evolution of flight

            feather upon feather, layer upon layer, marking me out for that which I am.

            And as evening implicates heaven and earth, we, in common purpose wait,

                                         Row upon row, upon wire, upon tree,                        

                                                  to savour the act of communion … eager,

                                                                                          Waiting for the bold one.

                                                                                      Stay a while, watch us take flight,

                                                                                                See .. and hear,

                                           tens upon hundreds upon thousands of murmuring wings

                                                   create a spectacle to which those within are blind,

                             unaware of the singular wonder they bring to life at days end,

                                As shape begets shape, layer, upon layer, upon layer.

                  Like the starling,

   I see not the whole of which I am part,

                             but imagine it, I can; conceive of it and relish it I can

                        and with the hunger of famine, I do,

                    that for me is the joy …. in being this man.


                                                                                                   Malcolm J Tait

Cognito Ergo Sum …. Hunc.          (I think Therefore I Am … This One).



Having thought…       I questioned


and so aspired, that there might be hope,

made, so marked my passing,

Listened, that I might be heard,

looked, that I might be seen,

gave, that I might receive,

and touched, so was embraced.

and reached out, that I would be held ….


                                                                 …   in the arms of my god.



Malcolm J Tait


Head on through the furrows, longing for ease,

narrowed eyes stung by the elements.

Hold steady into the wind.

I think of you in this vastness

where I live and toil,

in awe of its beauty, in fear of it’s unforgiveness.

But I will turn and seek you out

I know your signs ,

a beacon in the darkness

a fair wind home riding the tide

coming home to knowing

judgement left outside.

I turn into you

a haven embroidered by my mother for a wee boy,

where fear recedes and warmth grows

A harbour still

E’en with the passing of years.

Three score and ten.


Malcolm J Tait

The Train Now Standing at Platform 7


There was no arrival, I don’t know who bought the ticket

and I certainly do not remember leaving the womb.

Childhood was a riot, but unknowing,

 It did bring me to my youth

from whence I had only one destination that I recall and that was pleasure.

But I never found the right platform

and the pleasures desired and briefly glimpsed were limited

and it had some dark places I wanted to leave.

I should have paid more attention at learning.

On it went.


“Tickets please young man” …. a pause, the Guard looks, another pause …. “You’re on the wrong train”

I’m on the wrong fucking train!  I don’t know where I’m bloody going!

“You will have to get off at the next stop”.


The sleeper stopped, I got off.


Time demanded something of me

a destination.

an ideal, an adventure, success, courage, a contribution

God only knows what, it nagged at me, cajoled, annoyed.


I got on the next train that arrived, what luck, she was a beauty,

It was never easy, we started with Frank’s advice,

but in the end did it her way, our way, my way, …. ad infinitum,

the synchronisation left much to be desired

but it was exciting, making our everyday and mundane contributions to life.

You know in your heart, what. As I know in mine.


I never saw the destination on the front of that train,

It didn’t seem to matter, we passed through Addlestrop a few times

Where we stopped to look but never lingered, never sure

and got back on board.

Expectation can have strong ties.


“Tickets please Sir” …. a pause, the Guard looks, another pause …. “You’re on the wrong train”

I’m on the wrong fucking train!  Awe please give me a break!

“You will have to get off” he paused for effect, “at the next stop”.


I get off and sit on the platform.


And I sit, and I sit, and I sit, the tanoy murmurs things, I don’t hear.


I am looking around. Where the fuck am I?

I want to know somewhere, something.

Decisions both my own and by others brought me here, must there be one to leave?

All I see is “PLATFORM 7” 

A train pulls in, no announcement, no destination signed.

I like that, we’ll give that a go.


I board the train, and as I close the door see my past standing there to see me of,

Friends and family wave, some more enthusiastically than others

I find my window seat, sink into revelation and let heavy eyelids drop, confused.


Seeking grip, the wheels take me at walking pace from a place I thought I knew

to a place I knew I would never know.

Faces are already dulling, expressions harder to read, why is that?

I know I am changing, aren’t we all?


As we pick up speed the excitement grows as does the distancing of the past

There are things I miss, fragments of my own story,

I sigh, and uneasily accustom myself to the new and grow,

embracing the view, the journey, the possibilities, then …. over my shoulder I hear….

“Tickets please”, a pause …. the Guard looks at me ….. smiles

clips the ticket.

“Thank you, enjoy your journey”.


The journey is a discovery sought for sixty years,

I sit, cushioned in something I can’t name but know,

when the sudden rush of a train on the down track startles me,

I see my past waving at me, briefly warming me.

As the clamour dies people I care for but now distant come to mind,

they have their own journeys.

Sometimes discovery can be a lonely place.


Malcolm J Tait

One Last Look in the Mirror


One last look in the mirror to see the smile I have waited a lifetime for,

Embracing all.

To those who helped craft this smile,

and that is all of you, thank you.

The greying hair and beard a badge to my age and woes,

the crow’s feet from a lifetime of squinting to see better

and mostly failing.

The chapped skin, brushstrokes of a wind

both harsh and kind

and thin lips, bitten too often,

The ears that brought anger

and the ecstasy of music

Eyes that bore witness to grief and sorrow

pure joy and the world of colour

and finally not forgetting the Roman nose,

out in front heralding my arrival at this place.


One last look in the mirror to see the smile I have waited a lifetime for,

I embrace it.


Malcolm J Tait