I am still not ready to write new poems, though I can feel them murmuring deep inside me. Today I offer as a memorial to him two of my published poems: “Losing”, one of his favorites, and “Curriculum Vitae at Seventy Four,” written six years ago, but as accurate an reflection of how we had lived our lives together as it was when I wrote it.
The yellow eye of a bright blue
forget-me-not in my garden
looked up at me today,
reproaching me for absent-mindedness
I planted it last year, and I’d forgotten
where it lay. That look is haunting me.
Yesterday I lost my iPod, the day
before, some pills I thought
were safely stored.
And last week, a book
I knew I’d bought and put upon a shelf
vanished. Words too are so much harder
to retrieve. I know I had them,
but they no longer
come on cue, waiting until I think
they’re really gone and then
emerging. And yet forgetfulness
is just a symptom. A while ago
I lost another dog
to old age and disease,
a timid Springer Spaniel
who barked at bikes and boxes
but no one every feared.
That isn’t all. I’ve lost a younger brother
and a much beloved friend.
That losing comes with loving
is, I know, a given.
Still, loving is a habit
that I cannot break – a bird
whose nest is plundered
every year, I build again
in the same fragile place.
Curriculum Vitae at Seventy-Four
Did I dream when we were young
and full of hope, we’d always dance all night,
work all day without a sign of weariness?
Our yesterdays have vanished
as quickly as the breath of summer
I felt this morning brush my lips as I awoke.
What we have done in all our years
is printed on pages
soon forgotten like dusty books
aging on shelves that no one ever visits.
But in early dew to have traced the tracks
of the fox’s journey through the meadow,
pattern of turkeys’ passage in the snow,
to have seen a shower of Perseids,
to have seen the glow of Northern Lights,
have sat beneath the reddening maple tree
beside the pond, listening to the silence
of leaves floating on its surface,
to have watched the growing
of our children’s children
and to have held each other through times
of pain and darkness
will have been enough.
Both poems are printed in my book All Roads go Where They Will,
Antrim House Press, 2010