Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Tuesday Poem: Variations on an early turning

Five days of rain, bitter gales
mass desertion of leaves
bedraggled blackbird, savage at
the last apple’s heart
pecking a cadenza for rain’s bolero.

Days of unseasonal cold too
snow on the hills, an early turning
as my own winter starts
with skirls of slurry and sleet
from the pipes that plumb to my heart.

In a boy’s body, after hard running
I remember lying listening
to ground-bouncing, pounding timpani
unaware the heart’s sound
will one day desert the body.

And you my love
try to mask your concern
but your heart rides tandem with mine
and taps a discordant descant
for my drug-induced adagio.

Today, for a heartbeat of time
the day mutes rain’s tattoo
unravels a sodden skein
from the sullen blanket of sky
lets through a quaver of white.

Not enough blue sky to make
a sailor a pair of pants
your father would say
before his proud heart surrendered
to time’s savage pecking.

Though long enough to display
the latency all days have
for light, warmth, death’s abstention
for playing arpeggios of hope
in a heart’s winter garden.

The recent change of season here in NZ - snow, rain, gales - reminded me of an early winter a few years ago. It coincided with a personal health scare. I wrote this poem at that time and it was published in Tongues of Ash.

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  1. This is gorgeous, Keith. I love the rhythms and images here. The third stanza is especially powerful, for me -- the way we are caught in a moment, in transition, in between two states (knowing and not knowing? then and now? before and after? late autumn and early winter? calm and storm?). I like the way you capture the beat of the heart, of rain, of nature, of life.

  2. This feels appropriate and also a touch foreboding as we prepare for a forecasted two days of blizzards here in Christchurch.

    Lovely poem. Really love that line: "pecking a cadenza for rain’s bolero".

  3. Thanks Ben Hur. I hope it is not as bad as forecast.


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