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The Cloister

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The last light of a July evening drained
into the streets below: My love and I had hard   
things to say and hear, and we sat over   
wine, faltering, picking our words carefully.

The afternoon before I had lain across   
my bed and my cat leapt up to lie   
alongside me, purring and slowly   
growing dozy. By this ritual I could

clear some clutter from my baroque brain.
And into that brief vacancy the image
of a horse cantered, coming straight to me,   
and I knew it brought hard talk and hurt

and fear. How did we do? A medium job,   
which is well above average. But because   
she had opened her heart to me as far   
as she did, I saw her fierce privacy,

like a gnarled, luxuriant tree all hung   
with disappointments, and I knew   
that to love her I must love the tree   
and the nothing it cares for me.

William Matthews, “The Cloister” from After All: Last Poems. Copyright © 1998 by William Matthews. Reprinted with the permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved, www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com.
Source: After All: Last Poems (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1998)
The Cloister

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