I read ‘Imaginary Friends’ to my Poetry Readers’ group earlier this week at a small event that included wine and cakes. When I introduced the poem I remembered how I came to write it. At school, I had a real friend whose imaginary friend was called Dumney Harding.
It seemed that Dumney has been waiting for an opportunity to come out of the shadows and into a poem. He re-emerged after a conversation I had with a very old lady who asked if she could talk to me. She wanted to tell me that she couldn’t pray any more. She sounded desolate. I didn’t know what to say to her. Later I thought how wonderful it would be if the imaginary friends who protected us when we were children could come back when we are old and can’t pray anymore. The poem wrote itself from that. I don’t know if I could say this to the lady. I find myself saying on paper what I can’t say directly.