Saturday, 11 September 2010

The Briefcase

Long, long ago, in the days before computers,
My daughter gave me a briefcase.
A special briefcase,
An attaché case,
A large, black, square box,
With locks outside and divisions inside,
Big enough to hold files and dictionaries,  notebooks and pens.

For years this briefcase was my constant companion
On travels between home, work, libraries, meetings;
Underground and overground;
Getting scuffed and scratched, scraped and scarred
In my service.

It travelled in overhead lockers,
Under seats,
And, in comfort, on my lap.
Sometimes it became a suitcase,
holding a change of clothing,
A sponge bag,
A book
And a bar of chocolate for emergencies.

It has travelled in style, in chauffeur driven limousines,
And precariously balanced on the seat of a rickshaw
Propelled by a bicycle.
It has seen the world from the top of the highest towers
In London and Stockholm;
It has opened its jaws inside the Houses of Parliament,
And the Works Councils’ pre-fabricated sheds.
It has dined in the finest restaurants,
Road side cafés,
And factory canteens.
It has seen a bullfight in Madrid,
And the Taj Mahal by moonlight.

High days and holidays,
To my briefcase they were all the same,
All part of the service.
Nothing out of the ordinary.

But even a briefcase needs to feel special sometimes.

Once it came with me to a hospital,
Carrying neither files nor dictionaries,
But books and notepads,
Pens,  photographs,  music.
It stood on the floor by my bed,
Waiting patiently for the day when I would notice it,
Open it,
And extract from its capacious belly
All the things which would bring me back to life,
Books and notepads, pens, photographs and music.

On a quiet afternoon, with a million dust motes dancing in the slanting rays of the summer sun,
The briefcase opened its jaws on the bedside trolley.
And I sat, dangling my legs over the edge of the bed,
Headphones clamped over my ears,
Busily writing,
The other patients dozing,
When Matron called over from her desk
at the end of the ward.

“And I thought you were working”,

She had heard me humming along to the heavenly strains
Of Nadir the Fisherman remembering his lost love Leila,
The virgin protectress and Brahma’s  priestess
In the far off Ceylon of antiquity.

My briefcase had  come up trumps,
Giving me the means to escape from my bed of pain
In the dusty ward of a Victorian Hospital
To a world full of colour and beauty.

Je crois entendre . . . . .


  1. wundervoll, dieses poetische schöne Post heute Morgen zu lesen! Wenn Deine Tochter Deine Worte lesen würde, würde sie sich sicher sehr freuen. Manche Geschenke sind so wertvoll, dass sie einen das ganze Leben begleiten, und sei es nur in der Erinnerung.
    Hoffentlich ist es bei euch so wunderschön wie bei uns!
    und: Dein Gedicht unten ist ebenfalls sehr beeindruckend; ich geniesse es, Dich hier zu besuchen und freue mich, Deine Seite gefunden zu haben!
    Auf bald!

  2. What a life your briefcase has had but then what a life you have had.
    So glad your constant companion could also bring you comfort.
    Wonderful post.

  3. Such a bag is a constant reliable companion. I have had so many different ones over the years.
    As a schoolboy I had a small case like that. One day I arrived home from school and placed it on the dining room table and clicked it open with both hands. To my amazement the cat, who had been dozing by the fire, jumped up and shot out of the door. My mother explained that the vet had visited that morning and done exactly the same with his case and it resulted in an injection for the poor cat, who had obviously thought that it was in for a repeat performance.

  4. Friko, I could hardly breathe reading this. I know you know why that is so.

    je t'embrasse

  5. I have one of those - but it's not as well traveled or experienced as yours. Nonetheless, it's been around - a good companion, a work horse.

  6. I enjoyed this very much Friko. What a marvellous companion the briefcase has been. I wonder if you keep anything inside it now?

  7. That briefcase is alive. What a wonderful tribute.

  8. Wonderful writing, as always!

  9. What a lovely post, Friko. I enjoyed each and every word of it. :)

  10. Hi Friko,
    Good story.

  11. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

  12. Your life through the briefcase; it is holds all your stories. Beautiful.

  13. So good, so good. I absolutely love poems written almost from the point of view of the object itself. Lovely.

  14. Renee - danke sehr; ich hoffe, dass meine Tochter diese Worte liest, es wuerde mich sehr freuen.

    Arkansas Patti - thank you Patti, I enjoyed most of it, in spite of having to carry a heavy case everywhere during the working day.

    Jackie, Raining Acorns, Freda, Molly, Kate, Herrad, Martin -
    I am glad you liked this tale of the journey. Thank you.

    Deborah - extravagant as ever; yes, I have an idea. Thank you for your last line. It is actually Nadir, the fisherman in the Pearl Fishers who sings my last line but I thought it suited the text very well too.
    It is a very beautiful aria and I think even a non-opera person cannot fail to be moved by it. Go on, I dare you, listen to it. The Nicolai Gedda version if you can find it.

    Tramp - My one lasted for many years in spite of its heavy duty life.
    It never had to be beautiful, just functional.
    Cats are clever creatures, I've always known that.

    Pondside - I bet it could tell a tale or two, seeing where you take it and what stories it listens to.

    Christine - yes, I do. It is still in use as a receptacle for particular letters, some family documents and odds and ends connected with travel. It's still very useful.

    English Rider - thanks for visiting; the case was always useful to me, so perhaps a friend in that sense. reliable, at any rate.

    Marilynn - The stories to do with my working life mostly, but useful at other times too.

    Fran - Thank you Fran. I can't quite see it as a poem, more a piece of short sentences.

  15. Looks as if a traveling cloud did sign.

    Please have a wonderful Sunday you all.

  16. Dear Friko I am so absolutely in awe of your writing. A lot of great experiences coupled with a great skill with words. Always a joy to read.

  17. A magical briefcase... Beautiful post, Friko!

  18. Yes, more than lovely, this poem was
    almost a short story, and all done like
    magic from the POV of an inanimate
    object; love it--like the leather still
    retained some of the spirit of its
    original owner, whatever it was;
    trundling along with you, holding
    hands with you, tucked under your
    arm, sad to be off your lap, or near
    you on those travels, eying you from
    its vantage point on luggage racks,
    like a good dog, like a kind cat,
    always ready to provide you with
    that spot of comfort you need any
    time you reach for it. Cleverly done,
    well said, wonderfully written.

  19. What an exquisite piece of writing...
    And sending thoughts of comfort for you in the passing of your friend. Friendship is such a blessed gift and she was blessed to have you in her life.

  20. I love how the totem comes alive beside you. Thank you.

  21. This was a wonderful journey and so well written. Such a common scuffed old item, and yet you have made your readers love it.

  22. Jede Handtasche oder Koffer von einer Frau (Mann) könnte so viele Geschichte erzählen...
    Das macht sie so geheimnisvoll und wunderbar, Objekte von denen man sie sehr schwer trennen kann.
    Deine hast du ehrenvoll gewürdigt.
    Ich möchte dir auch zu deinem Verlust "Going home" kondulieren.

  23. Brilliant writing. Generous mind. Only a star would give top billing to a briefcase. :)

  24. I have one of those stuffed away in a closet somewhere, originally it belonged to my mother.... I'm sure it had some interesting tales tucked away in it from her years of use.

    Mine, not so interesting. And not so much use, more likely a backpack filled with notebooks, writing utensils and nowadays, a laptop....

    Great writing!

  25. Beautiful lyrical tribute to an object imbued with memories and meaning. You gave your briefcase such life that I was a little worried that somehow it might end sadly, but no thank goodness, it's still safe and sound.

  26. Robert, QMM, Vicki Lane - Thank you all for visiting and leaving such kind comments.

    Glenn - you have made an almost better story out of your comment, thank you for that.

    taylorsoutback - thank you for your good wishes.

    Wisewebwoman, Tabor, Manzanita - thank you all for your friendly comments.

    Maria Angela - Dank auch dir fuer die freundlichen und mitfuehlenden Worte.

    Reflections - I carry a backpack when I go out walking, I no longer need a briefcase, alas.

    Kerry - I am glad the ending pleased you, thank you for visiting.

  27. smart and fun!
    love the style.

  28. I am slowly working my way through your posts.
    You are a wonder.

    I am in awe.


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