Monday, March 17, 2008


when the flat field you saw from the attic window
shines with early winter frost

when the goose is cooked, its dark flesh
carved on a bone-white plate

when we sing don’t let the stars get in your eyes
don’t let the moon break your heart

when ground softens to crocus-gold

when summer is almost come, it is your birthday under a green canopy
and the table is empty

when apples are tight and hard and sour
when apples are ripe and red and sweet
when apples lie bruised and rotting

when the cat comes in and howls at nothing anyone can see

when the year turns and keeps on turning, the year ends
and we are at one more remove

a wide river running between us
no ferryman to bring me over

my hands cup the dark water
and the boat, my love,
will not come in


Collin said...

This is one of the most beautiful and haunting poems I've ever read. It's a masterpiece of grief and memory.

Reading the Signs said...

Collin, I'm very touched, thanks. I don't usually put up poems here, but wanted to on the anniversary of my Dad's death.

Kahless said...

I agree with Collin; a beautiful poem. I hope your fathers anniversary was peaceful for you.

Digitalesse said...

Beautiful, Signs.

That's So Pants said...

Lovely Signs, just lovely.



Nicola said...

Dear Signs, I still go on finding it hard to believe how closely in parallel our lives seem to run though it seems to me that you are taking the higher road while I bumble along on the lower. Your life, to me, seems somehow more light-filled, but I think maybe that's because you accept, with greater equanimity, Leonard Cohen's 'cracks where the light gets in.'
I, too, had set myself up for poetry boot camp during lent and while I have written a couple of new ones, have really been quite lazy. However, holy week is not yet lost on me and there are signs (signs, Signs!) of redemption.
It's so good to see one of your poems here (although your blogs are really poems anyway) and those last lines, that 'cup', are very moving.
Thank you for sending it out.

Reading the Signs said...

Dear blogfriends - thank you for reading, receiving and responding. So much appreciated.

Nicola, I am glad you are noticing signs. Although I bang on about being the only Reader of Signs, I secretly hope and suspect there are others out there

But Why? said...

One of the most evocative poems I've read in a long time. Such strong imagery

Reading the Signs said...

Good of you to say so, But Why. Happy Easter and happy rowing.

Anonymous said...

This is wonderful and I am shocked and tickled to read it. I have been thinking of the ferryman, and Charon and the River Styx too, as of late.

I am tickled to read your poem -- it is lovely, just lovely. The words so full, the images so rich.

Reading the Signs said...

Thank you, David, I am glad it had resonance for you. I wonder in what context you have been thinking of the ferryman.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for reminding me of this poem. I am struck by its stillness. x

Reading the Signs said...

Thanks anon - anon? Are you who I think you are?