A response to Philip Larkin
I try not to work too much, and don’t drink.
Stretching, I wake to the rustling dark –
to dawn seeping in through the brink
of the window, and the dog’s bark –
It’s then I see what’s really always there;
light streaming in through the misting air
absolving me of days that never quite start;
fallen empires grown thick with weeds,
a knowing smile at capricious needs
and under it all, my whispering heart.
The mind ceases to glare. Not through fear –
some good done, some love given, time
lined up like a jigsaw – here
missing a piece or two, but it’s fine;
there are more puzzles to do, that’s for sure,
while the stars play out their grand impure
drama, which can be a mess –
all scattered across the endless black
that brought us here, and can take us back;
Chaos can stand such a diffident dress.
There is a peculiar way of letting go –
The smile as a cure – like Gautama’s –
who tells of all deaths we ever could know
and did so to teach us: be calmer.
‘They have seen the Way, like a flash of lightning
in the night’ – now that’s enlightening.
Just relax – no sound, no sight
No touch or taste or smell, no mind
everything collapsing into the void
which we are, and are again, every night.
So. You can only learn so much from death.
You can dream about it, sure, but let it go.
It gets easier all the time. And as for the rest –
The sun will rise. This we can know.
Doesn’t it betray the poet and child
in the morning to sit in stunned and wild
silence, hands clasped in black prayer,
and think this shows some clean truth?
Give me a break. Death is no forbidden fruit
and your whining might just hasten you there.
(Interesting to see that you have no thought
For the deaths of your friends and those you love
as well you ought to
in those dark mornings. Let’s forgive
this self-regard. We know there is space
for all kinds of death; the shadow face
you held up as a simple, clarified skull
is a Janus. And on the other side
is a face of a mother, perhaps, with a soft smile
who takes leave from the world and leaves it full.)