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Dancing in the Dark with Jim

April 16, 2023

We knew Jim for over twenty years. He was a fellow folk dancer, a former typesetter, a book designer, maker of knot-gardens, morris dancer and concertina player, with a profound appreciation of art and craft and a delicious sense of the absurd.

In his final weeks we spoke often on the phone. Early last month, Jim asked me, as he often did, “How’s the poetry going?” I told him I was taking part in a performance called “The Poetry of Unknown Things” at Teignmouth Festival on the last day of March.

That’s interesting, said Jim, what are the unknown things?
The biggest unknown is death, I said.
This led to a long conversation.
Death is the next big thing, said Jim. I’m all right with that. I don’t mind dying. I’m not afraid. There is no fear.

Then he asked if I would write a poem for him, and I said I would try. I tried and tried, but nothing seemed right. Then something came when I woke in the night a couple of weeks later. Something not at all in my usual style. I didn’t realise at first that this was the poem for Jim. I emailed it, and one of his sons read it to him. I shall read it at a Humanist ceremony next week. And we shall dance an old dance called Nonesuch.

Dancing in the dark
for Jim

Between here and hereafter
between now and then
between one soul and another
the veil has grown thin.

We are one and we are many
some are here and some are gone
we are dancing all together
and the veil is thin.

The ancestors are with us
the night is full of wings
the sky’s alive with voices
the great darkness sings.

We are one and we are many
as the dance of love begins
there is music in the night sky
and the darkness sings.

Ama Bolton 20 March 2023

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Mary Bolton permalink
    April 16, 2023 9:06 pm

    What a beautiful tribute to a wonderful man.

  2. April 17, 2023 3:41 pm

    Your poem expresses how I feel these days, as one by one my friends and relatives depart this life, very sad to say. The veil feels very thin between me and them. I think I remember Jim with his concertina, and I’m pretty sure Roger knew him too. Maybe he and Roger are making music together wherever they are. It’s a nice thought.

  3. April 17, 2023 4:50 pm

    Very beautiful. Thank you.

  4. April 17, 2023 5:50 pm

    Yes, that’s a lovely thought, Bron. I hope they are. Wherever Jim is now, there will be a lot of laughter.


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