I have always loved the films of Walt Disney, especially the earlier ones. Fantasia, Pinocchio, the original One Hundred and One Dalmatians with its hand drawn images of Regents Park. In those films even objects have a life and can enter the narrative. A teapot can dance, a tree can talk, a raindrop can dance.
I went to see Snow White and the Seven Dwarves with my Dad when I was about seven or so. That first experience of going to the cinema, the lights going down, the bright images on the screen, the shimmering luminous world that showed me another life. A life ‘more real than real’ with it’s vivid colours and magical reality. That memory had a particular poignancy with the passing of my Father three years ago, and more recently my Mother. Themes of the fragility of life played out again and again in my poetry, the frailness of it in those last few months, also the fragility of those images on the screen, the transparency of the celluloid turning around the spool, threatening to tear or burn, the fragility of those hand coloured frames. Yet the permanence of it. The bright glowing memories of my parents, my childhood, and also the permanence of those films played out time and time again on the screen. Within those films of course is magic and fairy-tale, happy endings. The witch is vanquished, the bad spell broken, the lovers reunited, and death when it comes is usually off screen. So I wondered, where was Walt when I needed him? There was no fairy tale ending. My Mother curled up in bed in the Care Home. My Father when he fell was not rescued by his chair that grew wings and carried him off into the sunset.
I won’t wake up until the credits roll
then play it back, another death
this time off screen, her tiny legs just folded up
his chair thrown back, refused to fly.
How I wished I could remake that image, she would stand up again, his chair would fly.
This is the stuff of dreams of course and wishes, but in the end, despite the grief of loss, the lights do come up, the credits roll, the music takes us out back into the world.
another bright blue day, as blue as this you say
the edges turn to black, then pale to hardly there
then music. Light.
Louise Warren’s first collection A Child’s Last Picture Book of the Zoo won the Cinnamon First Collection Prize and was published in 2012. A pamphlet In the scullery with John Keats, also published by Cinnamon, came out in 2016. Her poems have appeared in many magazines including Ambit, New Welsh Review, The Rialto, Poetry Wales and Stand. She was a prize winner in the Troubadour International Poetry Prize (2013 and 2015) and this year her poem ‘Geraniums’ was highly commended in the Second Light Poetry Competition.
© Louise Warren, 2018. Image © Jo Mazelis, 2018.