I can’t perform the autumn tasks I love:
pruning gooseberries with a thorn-proof glove
on my left hand and secateurs in my right,
raking out layers of moss from the horse-shoe lawn
and writing poems late into the night.
Those sweet-and-sweaty autumn days are gone.
A second stroke, a cancerous colon;
full stop. I’m gone, too, out of the autumn light.
I’m old and ill, but not too old to care;
poems and gardens still have powers that bind
me to the poems and gardens in my mind;
they are the open secret places where
I said my wholly earthly godless prayer:
wordlessly until I came to write
another hymn to soft fruit and dwarf fruit trees
in lines more mindful, less broken brained than these.
My making days for poems and gardens are past;
this faulty, faltering hymn might be my last.
“Oh, not again, old man! Not another one, please!
Why don’t you count your blessings?” Yes, I bless
this glimpse of a recovered consciousness.
I’ve had life; what’s left will not be long;
just long enough to end this little song?
from A Winter's Journey
Margaret is a Queen. Does not
recall of where or who or
what or why. She sits and sits in
done up in insect paste
of lac and kermes,
crimson lipped, crimson
faced, sipping from a cup
of votive tea. At the bottom
left, there is the nurse
— supplicant — her apron
in flower of woad,
her mouth an O of
salad words. A scroll
of knitting trails
in silver banderolles
across the miniature.
from The Syllabary
The strong steal
Retained by wealth.
The meek inherit
Not one tenth
Of their own breath. Health?
From the dear earth
The end in dearth.
The empire has a watchword:
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