Evenings I’d find you
            bent over the dining room table
                        like a surgeon over a disembodied angel. 

 Under five yellow lights
            you would rearrange
                        the wispy wings, pin them 

 to the floral cotton,
            the blue corduroy—
                        the common material our bodies might fit.

 This was the beginning
            of the reconstruction. You worked
                         with a quiet determination,

 the knuckles of your long fingers
                        as you applied the tiny teeth

 of the tracing wheel
            against the delicate skin. 

 after your careful unpinning,
            the anticipated sundering
                        and airy uplift—

 forgive me my moments of doubt—
            the mortal fabric
                        would lie there, yes,

 bearing the marks ...



 You knew in time                      
             the dress or slacks would grow
                        too tight, or short,                                                

 that our days would be a succession
            of stepping in and out of pants and skirts,
                        blouses and shirts,                                                

 of turning in the long mirrors,
            wanting beauty,
                        lines that flatter,

 cloth that carries the wearer
            when brains are not enough.
                        Yet wanting more than that.

 Despite the turtlenecks and scarves
            you wear today to hide
                        your wrinkly neck. 

 One day it will all come off. 
            Someone will bathe our bare bodies,
                        maybe efficiently,

 perhaps with revulsion or fear.
            If we’re lucky
                        with tenderness.

 I cannot bear to think of you this way.
            Your lovely, bony body
                         no more. 

 Your dress folded over a chair.




MESSAGE by Harold Pinter

Jill. Fred phoned. He can't make tonight.
He said he'd call again, as soon as poss.
I said (on your behalf) OK, no sweat.
He said to tell you he was fine,
Only the crap, he said, you know, it sticks,
The crap you have to fight.
You're sometimes nothing but a walking shithouse.

I was well acquainted with the pong myself,
I told him, and I counselled calm.
Don't let the fuckers get you down,
Take the lid off the kettle a couple of minutes,
Go on the town, burn someone to death,
Find another tart, giver her some hammer,
Live while you're young, until it palls,
Kick the first blind man you meet in the balls.

Anyway he'll call again.

I'll be back in time for tea.

Your loving mother.

In celebration of National Poetry Month, I am sharing a poem each day this month -- except for the days I miss. :-)

The Span of Life



THE SPAN OF LIFE by Robert Frost

The old dog barks backwards without getting up.
I can remember when he was a pup.

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In celebration of National Poetry Month, I am sharing a poem each day this month -- except for the days I miss. :-)

Still There



THE PEAR by Jane Hirshfield

November. One pear   
sways on the tree past leaves, past reason.
In the nursing home, my friend has fallen.   
Chased, he said, from the freckled woods
by angry Thoreau, Coleridge, and Beaumarchais.
Delusion too, it seems, can be well read.
He is courteous, well-spoken even in dread.
The old fineness in him hangs on   
for dear life. “My mind now?
A small ship under the wake of a large.
They force you to walk on your heels here,
the angles matter. Four or five degrees,
and you’re lost.” Life is dear to him yet,   
though he believes it his own fault he grieves,
his own fault his old friends have turned against him
like crows against an injured of their kind.
There is no kindness here, no flint of mercy.
Descend, descend,
some voice must urge, inside the pear stem.
The argument goes on, he cannot outrun it.
Dawnlight to dawnlight, I look: it is still there.


(In celebration of National Poetry Month, I am sharing a poem each day this month ... except for the past two days, which I missed.)


MEMOIR by Vijay Seshadri

Orwell says somewhere that no one ever writes the real story of their life.
The real story of a life is the story of its humiliations.
If I wrote that story now ---
radioactive to the end of time ---
people, I swear, your eyes would fall out, you couldn’t peel
the gloves fast enough
from your hands scorched by the firestorms of that shame.
Your poor hands. Your poor eyes
to see me weeping in my room
or boring the tall blonde to death.
Once I accused the innocent.
Once I bowed and prayed to the guilty.
I still wince at what I once said to the devastated widow.
And one October afternoon, under a locust tree
whose blackened pods were falling and making
illuminating patterns on the pathway,
I was seized by joy,
and someone saw me there,
and that was the worst of all,
lacerating and unforgettable.


I am sharing a poem each day, in celebration of National Poetry Month. Today's poem is from Vijay Seshadri's latest book, 3 Sections, which was just announced as the winner of the 2014 Pulizter Prize for poetry.