Since, if I look back, the road already traveled is longer
than this goat-track taking me now
where we’ll dissolve like wax,
and the rushes in flower don’t console the heart
as do the young shoots, the graveyard’s blood,
here you are, Father, free of the darkness
that held you, springing up in the dazzling light,
without shawl or beret, in the rumbling tremor
which, at dawn, announced
miners’ barges half-hull-down
with their great cargo, black on the heaving waves.

The shade who goes beside me as companion
to your grave, waits, watchful;
resting on a graveyard herm, she haughtily
throws back her head, revealing
beneath a childish curl of wayward hair
burning eyes and scowling brows—
her shade weighs no more than yours, Father,
buried so many years ago; the first dawn
light cuts through it, butterflies flit
brightly through, the sensitive
mimosa, unflinching, grazes her ghost.

The loyal shade and the mute one rising again—
she whom the inward fires disembodied;
he whom long years of time beyond time
(dispirited years for me) have now unfleshed—
converse, exchanging words which I, numb
at the grave’s edge, cannot hear. She perhaps
will someday find the form in which love
burned for Him who moved her, not for herself;
but the other one’s discouraged, afraid
that ghost of memory in which his sons still feel him
warm will vanish in the surging light.

—I have thought for you, I have remembered
for all. Now you return to the unbounded sky,
which transmutes all. Does this craggy cliff
still tempt you? Yes, the high-water mark is still where
it always was, the sea that made you one
with these shores of mine before I sprouted wings
doesn’t dissolve. I recall my
coasts, and yet my voice has come with the coots
to take you away from yours. Memory’s
no sin, so long as it serves some purpose. After that,
it’s the laziness of moles, degradation

mouldering on itself….
In the wind of day
the living shade dissolves into the other ghost
still struggling in a medium which rejects
my hands, and my breath catches
at the widest point, there in the grave ditch
around the sudden start of memory.
Even so, a dark remembering sense,
even before it fastens onto images and words,
brings to light the uninhabited void
which we once occupied, the emptiness biding its time
to fill itself with us, and find us out again….

This Issue

April 16, 1981