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Poems

OUR DOUBLE TIME

1.

 

A morning leaving hospital, suddenly the height,

The breadth, the depth.  Autumn of my overhaul

When senses seemed to double. Rilke was right:

Some fruit in me keeps ripening for a mellow fall.

Scalpel and needle of growth. A wound’s suture.

Etched wonder of what’s both brittle and finite:

Two girls linking arms and so full of the future;

The unbearable joy of a sumac’s crimson light.

Had I been too busy to notice all this before,

Too concerned to catch the obvious rhyme?

Everything vibrates. A voice. A scent. A colour.

Charged and marvellous. Everything in double time.

To have been to the edge just to be allowed return

To moments of utter in-loveness, utter unconcern.

 

2.

 

So I’d wanted it all. The whole noisy city.

Every unpetalled moment. And even as a boy

My mother’s sickbed, a piercing sword of pity.

0 why this turning worm in my crimson joy?

A nagging unease, a thought I’d tried to shirk

Some hazy dread. At last I think I’ll dare

To face it squarely; even to trust its work.

Such release! To care more and not to care!

Twin intensity of knowing that now is now.

All time is borrowed, borrowed and double.

Two-sided, it both belongs and transcends.

Like Eunan’s vision, mine is a carnal Tau:

The fun, the gossip, a town’s bubble-bubble,

Criss-cross of voices, the laughter of my friends.

 

3.

 

And yet nothing for granted. A face of a friend.

A glance, a touch, a word. This joie de vie,

Time doubled in the light of our open-end.

The day nor hour or how the going will be.

Sudden cut and tumble? A flickering tragedy?

My heart knows brokenness and still rejoices.

But will these lines yet haunt a coward in me?

Whatever. Whenever. I trust I’ll hear my voices

Does Rilke’s inner fruit now slowly mature.

Seeding and settling, a long working within?

So, in the meantime, friends, just to be sure,

Kiss me, caress me, stroke the outer skin.

Fondle this husk and pod, my spirit’s cell,

Warm the gourd still ripening in its shell.

 

4.

 

The stubborn will and then the loss of will.

Millennia of survival printed in nature’s idiom

The way in making love we rein in until

A point of no return. Given over. Overcome.

As in the beginning yield again to the heave

Years of volition keep the muscles in check

Till minutes before the foetus readies to leave,

A knee-jerk unclenching opens a womb’s neck.

And the whole of my life preparing just for this.

D-day. H-hour. Zero moment. The splendour

Of piercing light. The distant face of Beatrice.

The passive voice will hum its last surrender.

Then, take me. Sweep me in that overflow.

Sweetness of holding back. Sweeter let-go.

 

5.

 

Here is my life. These my friends and voices.

No fixed measures. Just moving with a word

As though I belong in counterpointed noises,

One of those fervent motets of William Byrd.

Across all the aeons my one humming breath

Poised in this motet. Steady, even sublime.

To think this year will have been my fiftieth!

From now every single moment our double time.

Not that I’ve grown blas√© or no longer care,

More a deeper listening to a music’s densities.

No matter how or when, no matter where,

The feel of a line sung with consummate ease.

I love and am loved. All my tinyness rejoices

That I’ll have been a voice among your voices.