When we were nine or ten and used to play
at dying — hands clasped to the chest,
Goodbye, beautiful world, I love you! —
we didn't believe it could ever really be done.
Say goodbye to everything? A gunshot wound
in 'Alias Smith and Jones' could set us thinking —
please please don't die — or a feathered mess
that had been a pigeon squashed on the road.
Even Divinity class, that final sponge of vinegar
on a speartip. Goodbye, beautiful vinegar.
Now, under the shag of decades, after so much
contact with things, it takes a morning like this.
Snow has fallen, a light crust. On the white field
green trails zigzag where the horses wandered,
a crazy scribble shows where they fed.
There they are now, two statues stooping.
All the ewes are sitting, thawing their grass.
Puddles crunch like caramel. Little snowfalls
crumble down a hedge. The silver-birch
trembles with its own twigs' shadows.
And under the rusty chestnut I walk
through a rain of crystals. There isn't much to say.
This is a day that decides by itself to be beautiful.
This field is a bride. How are we to say goodbye?
From "In Dr No's Garden" (Cape, 2001)