The poem Moments of Grace by Carol Ann Duffy is one can we can reflect upon for hours upon hours. Duffy’s gift of words and images is a feast, and like all feasts we ought to eat slowly and enjoy every course and every taste. I feel there is so much in this poem that we could talk about it for days! Let me offer some thoughts which I trust will cause you to ponder each and every line and come up with your own understanding of what the poet is saying. So please take a “moment” and enjoy the “grace” which you find woven in the images and words of the poem. If you search out this poem online you will have a host of explanations to delve through and as we know when it comes to poetry once a poem is written its interpretation is open to all!
Is this a dream and a string of consciousness? The power of memories, from childhood days and first “loves” writing the name of your crush on the palm of your hand. From boats sailing to the thought of one’s dreamboat along with the image of water and the fluidity of memories. First loves slip away – vanish – like memories themselves in older age hard to recall harder still to have them in good order. Duffy makes mention of all our senses, touch of a kiss, smell and taste of an orange, sound of the sea and the chimes of mothers, sight of a small boat and of a postman and vanishing sights and scents. Memories vanish and memories are locked like a caged bird, perhaps these lines suggest older years when memories begin to vanish, like air from a balloon and the fear of memory loss and the onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s. Yes there is a lot to dwell on in these 5 stanzas. Yet throughout all of life the poem touches on many moments of grace, and none so precious as that of the last line of the poem. Pause and ponder. Oh I almost forget to say Happy Valentines!
Carol Ann Duffy, “Moments of Grace”
I dream through a wordless, familiar place.
The small boat of the day sails into morning,
past the postman with his modest haul, the full trees
which sound like the sea, leaving my hands free
to remember. Moments of grace. Like this.
Shaken by first love and kissing a wall. Of course.
The dried ink on the palms then ran suddenly wet,
a glistening blue name in each fist. I sit now
in a kind of sly trance, hoping I will not feel me
breathing too close across time. A face to the name. Gone.
The chimes of mothers calling in children
at dusk. Yes. It seems we live in those staggering years
only to haunt them; the vanishing scents
and colours of infinite hours like a melting balloon
in earlier hands. The boredom since.
Memory’s caged bird won’t fly. These days
we are adjectives, nouns. In moments of grace
we were verbs, the secret of poems, talented.
A thin skin lies on the language. We stare
deep in the eyes of strangers, look for the doing words.
Now I smell you peeling an orange in the other room.
Now I take off my watch, let a minute unravel
in my hands, listen and look as I do so,
and mild loss opens my lips like No.
Passing, you kiss the back of my neck. A blessing.
Holy, and loving God,
our days and years
are composed of moments
of grace and goodness.
Forgive our deafness and blindness
to such moments, when we allow
discord and difficulties to cage us in.
We thank you for memories and their
joy when we pause and ponder and
revisit childhood years, middle years,
and older years. Grant us grace as we continue
to make memories with family and friends.
Might our “souls” be touched by moments of grace
that enable us to keep taking steps through the present
and into the future. At times even in unknown ways
may our presence be grace to another. Amen.