THE GREAT VERSES (5):
He reads the great verses, in the bath.
His body unwinds, thoughts fill his mind.
Denise Levertov savours plum and quince;*
tells of tasting, living, in “O Taste and See”.
Peach blossoms intoxicate Li-Young Lee.*
Oh yes, he thinks, catch sensation on the wing.
Transfix it, preserve it, ever-anew;
that’s what he must try; what a poet should do.
He reads on; dogged, ageing, unafraid.
The fragrance of his bath foam disperses and fades . . .
*Denise Levertov: “O Taste and See”
*Li-Young Lee: “From Blossoms”
Having recently completed a sequence of seven poems on the subject of reading anthologies of poetry whilst relaxing in a warm bath, I realized – looking back at recent posts in this blog – that I had inadvertently omitted number five in the sequence. The final one in the sequence – number seven – will appear in a few weeks.
Readers of this blog might be interested to know that I also write short stories, which are available at www.alfiedog.com
A recurrent family scene;
long ago, childhood days.
Late afternoon; mother
in the kitchen. My brother
upstairs, or in the garden.
My father in the armchair
next to mine, snoring, or
reading a newspaper.
through the kitchen door,
enticing our slumbering appetites.
Suddenly, a knock on the door.
Alarm, fear, immediate;
tangible as a dangerous
wild animal, now with us,
in the room.
My father jerks in his chair;
turns to me, and on his face
is a look of dread.
A dread I share.
Pure, strong; distilled,
from the earliest of times,
into my very soul.
The dread is still with me,
after all these years.
I hope to God
the old myth is not true:
the final portals;
the family ghosts,
all there, waiting for you.
My poem “The Dread” is inspired by childhood memories. I’m sure that most people have memories of visits from family relatives, during childhood years. I don’t know whether I was particularly unfortunate or not, but it just seemed to me, at the time, that our relatives never gave any warning of their visits, always arrived unexpectedly, and always arrived at the wrong time. It may seem exaggerated to ascribe a feeling of “dread” to such humdrum family experiences, but I can assure you that my father – for whatever reason – did genuinely evince such feelings, and they had a real and lasting impact upon me.