When I Didn’t Get the News; Let It Go

When I Didn’t Get the News


I was on the Welsh coast, off
St. David’s, on a bluff
looking down on the Atlantic

with Chrissy (chicken sandwiches,
strawberries and champagne
might have been the thing).

Instead, we drove
to the Snowdonian sunset
and returned to the full,
the rising moon.


I didn’t get the news,
but slowly through the night
slept out the sweat of ages
channeled like a current over stones,

and woke to a day as calm and ordinary
as a blur of hedgerow,
a sunlit quarter of portioned field.

Small roadside phalanxes of foxglove
marshaled me to peace.

And that was when,
long after it had happened,
I did get the news,
or my computer did,

the simple fact that you were dead
and that I’d missed the whole final drama
while in my life.


The day of sunlight on the swales
and lowing cattle, glowing coals
of hillside sheep,

the day of fantasies about the perfect hovel
on the hill, the day we would try
to keep,

that day was the day my mother died,
simple fact—a useful thing, that—
and became not here

across thousands of miles of sea
and air.


I tried to think of who you were,
and how you tried to tell me at the end
to let go the whole baggage of the past.

No sense in grinding it to sausage,
no sense in cooking it to the perfect
killing meal.

The particular you, the wry jokes
and walking stick, the book groups
and bad girls who loved you—

might as well let them in
as they were the ones who knew you best,
the beautiful blind and halt,

the whisky-soaked and all the rest
forgiven as they had forgiven you.

And I am with them too.


Let It Go


Earth, I walked on a trail of blooming dryad,
lay on a boulder, watching night come on,
the eager silhouetted limbs thrust up,
harmless night known first in a darker blue
then even darker to the dust of stars,
the far-off traffic of a night-denying city,
the dogs calling, I thought, joyfully. Night,
harmless night when my love moves in her day
on the far side of Earth, an ocean away.

Today a friend called, his voice thick with grief
because he cannot stop himself from feeling,
because his joy and grief are the same chord
on the same bowed lyra. My friend is Greek, the lyra
no mere symbol but a mode of living, fire
in the night, cold water at dawn. And you, Earth,
have called out to us all our lives, in squall
and zephyr, flood and tidal wave, no one life
enough to hear the chord beyond belief.

Earth, I am learning mineral patience, moved
by the current of last night’s dreaming, this morning’s coffee.
Sometimes I hate you for coming between my love
and me, for being so large, so full of laws
and nations and money and people who cling to them all.
I know it is not your wish. I try to live
with animal resignation, grazing the weather,
alert for signs of danger. We’ve just begun,
my love and I, to meet beneath the sun.

We live each day in the shade of another life,
anonymous as all of space, or all
that passes under the canopy of leaves.
Earth, we cannot cling to you any more
than to each other. The life already over
is the one we love, the tears already shed,
the words already written, the magic drowned,
our feeling fire that sparks into the stars
while down below the ordinary cars

go on, abrasive and efficient commerce,
the houses glow and people lock their doors.
I’m shedding what I own, or trying to,
walking down the path of blooming dryad
and the pitch of pines, until I hear the stream
below me in the canyon, below the road,
below the traffic of ambition and denial,
the unclear water running to the sea,
the stream, dear Earth, between my love and me.