I am in love with poetry, with the good words that saved
me, with the men and women who uncapped their pens and laid
the ink on the blank canvas of the page.
am shameless in my love; their faces rising on the smoke and
dust at the end of day, their sullen eyes and crusty hearts, the
murky serum now turned to chalk along the gone cords of their
reciting the first anonymous lines that broke night’s thin
shell: sonne under wode. A baby is born us bliss to bring. I
have labored sore and suffered death. Jesus’ wounds so wide.
am wounded with tenderness for all who labored in dim rooms with
their handful of words, battering their full hearts against the
flee from me that sometime did me seek. Wake, now my love,
awake: for it is time. For God’s sake hold your tongue and let
can I do but love them? Sore throated they call from beneath
blankets of grass, through the wind-torn elms, near the
river’s edge, voices shorn of everything but the one hope,
the last question, the first loss, calling
slow, fresh fount, keep time with my salt tears. Whenas in silks
my Julia goes, calling Why do I languish thus, drooping and dull
as if I were all earth?
they are bones, the sweet ones who once considered a cat, a
nightingale, a hare, a lamb, a fly, who saw a Tyger burning, who
passed five summers and five long winters, passed them and
saved them and gave them away in poems.
could not have known how I would love them, worlds fallen from
their mortal fingers. When I cannot see to read or walk
alone along the slough, I will hear you, I will bring the
longing in your voices to rest against my old, tired heart and
call you back.
old women of Bari near the sea sit in the small shadows of
open doors. Their faces are beautifully darkened in the
sunlight. Their hair is grey enough. They have seen the wars.
They have known the young Germans blundering and falling out of
the sky like poisoned moths. The young men in Bari today swagger
and smirk as though no one had ever lived before, as though no one
had ever died. Forever titivating their lank hair in the Adriatic
breezes, voluptuously caressing their own armpits, they love to be
told they are the lost youth, unemployed and betrayed by The System.
Their motorcycles whinny insanely along the dark streets, and they
are interested in women only to frighten them. They are too mindless
to be skillful thieves. But the old women of Bari in their open doors know that young men will find something wlse to do, and I walk in this city as frighted as an old sea woman startled by moths.
Once the old city of Bari rose and gathered its companions out of the sea. But the new city, a growth of our present desperate century squats a little inland, companionless. It is no place for solitude. Already the stony faces of new tall buildings are beginning to crumble.
On my last day here, I will walk carefully through the barren places and find the past again, the old city where I can stand solitary beside the noble churches. And beyond the old city, even beyond the past, there is the sea itself, the ancient freshness of the natural world that God, stirring in His loneliness and unapproached in His light, breathed upon. The fragrance of the water moves heavily and slowly with mussel shells and the sighs of drowned men. There is nothing so heavy with earth as the sea's breath and the breath if fresh wilderness, the camomilla fields along the shore. I would like to stand among them and breathe their air, one more day of my life, before I have to turn around and make my way back to this present century, back through the ugliness of vicious young faces,w ho will leave no churches behind them in the fullness of their age, but only the blind scars of motorcycle tires, the wrinkles of panic on women's faces, and an echo of brutal laughter at the edge of the sea.