Two Poems by Rachel Hadas
The mutt self-pity slavers at my ankles.
Flapping in time loose as an ancient bathrobe,
directionless, self-loathing: what to do
with February's extra day
which as I write
has given way to merciless March light?
The day was handed me, apparently,
to visit you in the "facility."
I'd planned to, so I did.
You weren't doing well.
Nor was I in the pink.
The lifted burden floating near my head
leaves space for thoughts to flow to, so I think.
Why look for symmetry?
Why should I automatically
Rise as you descend?
Thirty years together. Thirty-two.
And of these maybe ten
with the insidious illness in your brain.
The two of us are not a seesaw creaking
amicably up and down.
I cannot say what we resemble now.
Not that we're strictly speaking still a "we,"
nor are we not.
This is what I see:
something that slows and starts again and slows
and sputters and eventually ends -
an end as gradual, as invisible
in its movement as whatever seed
started its long growth inside your skull.
"Every thing," Mary Shelley wrote,
"must have a beginning...
and that beginning must be linked to something
that went before."
These links evoke an endless length of chain
choking your brain.
Each time I visit you, or every day
you're given, will be better than what follows,
or so they say.
This was our Leap Day.
After the End of Summer
Vegetables glowing in the garden,
walks in starlight or the smell of woodsmoke:
enough time evidently had to pass
before all these sank firmly into place.
Not that they had exactly
vanished or been forgotten,
but that they gained in clarity with distance,
so that the brown brook when I finally sat
and listened to it spoke a single word
over and over in its water voice,
a voice born out of silence
different from uneasy human silence,
that cloudy curtain filtering out sound,
or aching hollow longing to be filled.
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