Emile Sercombe

I wanted to write about Emile Sercombe, someone I am proud to have had as a friend and whose generous creativity deserves to be remembered in poetry, prose and artworks everywhere.
While thinking about how I personally might commemorate him, the question, ‘How far are you from a sense of wonder?’ came to mind.
It led to the poem below.
When I first thought the poem was finished, I gave it a too clever title, ‘Dumb, The End’. I also thought it couldn’t really be about Emile. It didn’t mention his gangly athleticism, his trust in people, his surreal imagination and humour, his intelligence or his extraordinary creative courage, that took on seemingly impossible projects, pushing himself to physical limits in his Tennis poem or setting up on the streets of Glasgow to regale bemused passers by with a verbal surrealism that most dared not stop long enough to fathom.

I have had a week to think about this and I now think the poem is about Emile. He was never far from wonder and lived as if he were asking us all the question, so I dedicate this to him. I hope he wouldn’t mind.

For Emile

How far are you from wonder?
Is it in the nearest child?
Is it on the face of a parent
or disguising itself in fact?

Is it in the eyes of a lover
or bubbling under the burble
of a faraway café?
Is it distant in time or just distant?

Did someone steal it?
Did you give it to someone
or just neglect it
and it shrank

and you just kept pretending
everything was OK?
Did you find it incompatible
with your seriousness?

Is it that once you came to understand
wonder is the blue black lid
on this plate of landscape washed by sea,
you knew there’s nothing else?

Was that knee quake,
heart desperate to speak moment,
when you kept dumb, the end?
Are you now cynical, first?

Is that what makes you insensitive?
Is that why it doesn’t matter
how far along the path
pre-worn by animals,

how vaulted the branches
of organic anarchy,
or how locking-on the view,
you will never feel alive
in a skinless moment
or experience woke as a sunrise?

ZQ May 2023