Ode to David

A holiday gift to Can Xenet

To a Majorcan villa
To a change in my life

Met at the airport by an obscure countess
An effulgence about her with a car in a mess
Scatty though improved by eccentricity

‘Darlings’ abound
Wrapped up in sincerity and concern
For Melissa and me

A suggestion of hardship as we drove through the dilapidated gate and exhausted track
A ploy to deter the unwelcome and keep them off tack
But we were welcome and made to feel so

The idea began a few months before
What can we do to help those poor, injured soldiers, asked Sheila and David
To a friend and artist on their painting course

Invite them over to rest in Can Xenet
But whom do we ask
My niece’s husband, a warrior in Afghanistan

Gus a Fair man
A man who was followed by men
A determined, robust, thoughtful, inspiring man

Standing excited in the gardens of Headley Court
A call from Gus explaining he sought
Me and my wife and three other couples from the strongest of Dragoons

We soon dove into the hospitality and alacrity of German aristocracy
Around the pool in view of an artist’s studio in a barn
The offer of wine aplenty but would it harm if some prefer lager, pet

A hesitant conversation with Dave whilst still a stranger
So what was your injury, when you were in danger
Spine and brain

Ditto brain
In July last year

On Panther’s Claw

Ditto again
What day, no way,
The fourth of July

With B Company
Why aye, what company

Dave and I shared the same shrapnel from a device that was improvised and exploded
And now we shared a different vice
Beers in a Majorcan pool

We had not met before
He was supporting Gus nearby
On that day they joined us on the Fourth of July

I asked to look around the barn, to see what I could find
I marvelled at the images created
By a marvellous, artistic, charming and compassionate mind

Horses, and soldiers and cattle of Napoleon
On a march to battle
In pastel

Of clouds, of beautiful, atmospheric, ethereal cloud
In oil, or watercolour or pastel and proud
Of his favourite subject

David was gifted and keen
Able to describe the soldiering with power as he painted a scene
In under an hour

A demonstration of worth
His hypnotic and mesmerising creation, this birth
In front of us, in the moment, the power of now

It brought back memories I chose to depart
Of my green, askew wine bottle
For O Level art in 1986

Of a joy I used to have but had forgotten to be
Taken over by life, by antipathy
By a different path of lethargy

I wonder if…if I can find my younger years again
Of passion, of reward
Before I decided on going toward my brain’s left side

Before a careers officer shaped me
To follow a career
Not a vocation

And here I am
Thirty years later
Asking, debating

I gathered together a pencil and pad
I needed to change, to stop being melancholy
To rid myself of this despondent new self
Be the architect of my resplendent new life

March 2016