In Trust

By Thom Gunn 1929–2004 Thom Gunn
            You go from me
        In June for months on end
    To study equanimity
         Among high trees alone;
     I go out with a new boyfriend
And stay all summer in the city where
         Home mostly on my own
         I watch the sunflowers flare.

             You travel East
        To help your relatives.
   The rainy season's start, at least,
        Brings you from banishment:
    And from the hall a doorway gives
A glimpse of you, writing I don't know what,
         Through winter, with head bent
         In the lamp's yellow spot.

              To some fresh task
         Some improvising skill
     Your face is turned, of which I ask
         Nothing except the presence:
    Beneath white hair your clear eyes still
Are candid as the cat's fixed narrowing gaze
        —Its pale-blue incandescence
        In your room nowadays.

             Sociable cat:
         Without much noise or fuss
    We left the kitchen where he sat,
          And suddenly we find
     He happens still to be with us,
In this room now, though firmly faced away,
          Not to be left behind,
          Though all the night he'll stray.

              As you began
        You'll end the year with me.
   We'll hug each other while we can,
        Work or stray while we must.
    Nothing is, or will ever be,
Mine, I suppose. No one can hold a heart,
          But what we hold in trust
          We do hold, even apart.

Thom Gunn, "In Trust" from Boss Cupid. Copyright © 2000 by Thom Gunn. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC, All rights reserved.

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Source: Boss Cupid (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000)

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Poet Thom Gunn 1929–2004

Subjects Living, Growing Old, Sorrow & Grieving, Love, Desire

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Thom  Gunn


An English poet who has been a long-time resident of California, Thom Gunn combines a respect for traditional poetic forms with an interest in popular topics, such as the Hell's Angels, LSD, and homosexuality. While Gunn wrote most of his early verses in iambic pentameter—a phase when his ambition was "to be the John Donne of the twentieth century"—his more recent works assume a variety of forms, including syllabic stanzas and . . .

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SUBJECT Living, Growing Old, Sorrow & Grieving, Love, Desire

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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