*** HAPPY ST PATRICK'S DAY ***
Two poems For March 17 2003:
(more after 6:30pm when I get back home)
To wake up and discover -
a splurge of chill water -
that she was but a forthright woman
on whom we had bestowed
(because of the crook of an elbow,
the swing of a breast or hip,
a glance half understood)
divinity or angelhood?
Raised by the fury of our need,
supplicating, lusting, grovelling
before the tall tree of Artemis,
the transfiguring bow of Diana,
the rooting vulva of Circe, or
the slim shape of a nymph,
luring, dancing, beckoning:
all her wild disguises!
And now she does not shine,
or ride, like the full moon,
gleam or glisten like cascades
of uncatchable, blinding water;
disturb like the owl's cry
by night, predatory, hovering;
marshlight, moonstone, or devil's daughter.
But conducts herself like any
Normal citizen, orderly or slattern,
giving us a piece of her mind,
pacifying or scolding children,
or, more determinedly, driving
or riding to her office, after
depositing the children in a crêche,
while she fulfills herself,
competing with the best.
Of course, she is probably saying
the same thing of us, as oisin,
our tall hero from fairyland,
descends or falls from the saddle
to dwindle into an irritable husband,
worn down by the quotidian,
unwilling to transform the night
with love's necessary shafts of light.
Except that when the old desires stir
- fish under weed-tangled waters -
will she remember that we once were
the strange ones who understood
that powers that coursed so furiously
through her witch blood, prepared
to stand bareheaded, open handed,
to recognise, worship, and obey:
to defy custom, redeem the ordinary,
with trembling heart, and obeisant knee
to kneel, prostrate ourselves again,
if necessary, before the lady?
'A Lady of Quality'
In hospital where windows meet
With sunlight in a pleasing feat
Of airy architecture
My love has grapes and sweets to eat,
The air is like a laundered sheet,
The world's a varnished picture.
Books and flowers at her head
Make living-quarters of her bed
And give a certain style
To our pillow-chat, the nonsense said
To bless the room from present dread
Just for a brittle while.
For obvious reasons we ignore
The leaping season out-of-door,
Light lively as a ferret,
Woodland walks, a crocused shore,
The transcendental birds that soar
And tumble in high spirit
While under this hygienic ceiling
Where my love lies down for healing
Tiny terrors grow,
Reflected in a look, revealing
That her care is spent concealing
What, perhaps I know:
The ever-present crack in time
Forever sundering the lime-
Paths and the fragrant fountains,
Photographed last summer, from
The unknown memory we climb
To find in this year's mountains.
'Ended and done with' never ceases,
Constantly the heart releases
Wild geese to the past.
Look, how they circle poignant places,
Falling to sorrow's fowling-pieces
With soft plumage aghast.
We may regret, and must abide.
Grief, the hunter's fatal stride
Among the darkening hearts
Has gone too long on either side.
Our trophied love must now divide
Into its separate parts
And you go down with womankind
Who in her beauty has combined
And focused human hungers,
With country ladies who could wind
A nation's love-affair with mind
Around their little fingers,
And I communicate again
Recovered order to my pen
To find a further answer
As, having looked all night in vain,
A weary prince will sigh and then
Take a familiar dancer.
Now the window's turning dark
And ragged rooks across the park
Mix with the branches; all
The clocks about the building mark
The hour. The random is at work
On us: two petals fall,
A train lifts up a lonely cry...
Our fingertips together lie
Upon the counterpane.
It will be hard, it seems, and I
Would wish my heart to justify
What qualities remain.