[Thirteen Implements]

Do not allow me to sink, I said
To a top floating ribbon of kelp.
As I was lifted on each wave
And made to slide into the vale
I wanted not to drown. I wanted
To make it all right with my dear,
To tell my cat I’ll be away,
To have them all destroyed, the poems
Which were not objects enough on their own
Even entertainment value. I wanted
Through my saltwater breath to leave
A bubble or two in its abstract sphere
On the surface of their delicious minds.

Outside the window of the world
The midges dance above a bush
Making a complex music holding
A language for which there is no key.
That they are dancing there helps us
To communicate even in the negative.

Time’s not funny enough to dash
My hopes. I go in wide open
To deal with its little team of tenses
To try to win myself a stopped
Place for an instant while I think.

I have left my place to come to speak
To you. Now from this other place
Inhabited by the very beast
I brace myself to speak with good
Tone that will carry. I love you.
How does that sound? I was only testing.

Who murmurs me their secret name?
Is it you? If you could do that
You certainly would be better than me.
Who I am, the name I hunt
After has so far escaped me.
The grammarsow or the waving rook
Surely must think of me as somebody.

Ben Narnain was a love of mine,
Going up beside the Soordook Burn
And bracken and bog-myrtle. The water
Ouzel dipped at the pools. The twite
The mountain linnet caught the eye.
From the top I saw the sword of the long
Loch lying in its scabbard of hills.

Ideosyncracies of the way
We speak eventually become
Currency and only by Art
Skip the expanded chest of rhetoric
To speak nearly from one to another.

Younger my brash prison of joy
Seemed to do me well enough.
Now made modern with its new
Benefits of experience
I can hardly catch a glimpse
Of that young sun and tree-top.
My cell’s window has risen too high.

Is who’s listening who I guess
It is? My dear it is so long
Since I held your heart near.
I wanted just to speak but now
Hearing your little ear I know
So well near me I am put off.
Anyhow I was only going to try
To assail some aspect of Reality.

The blemish is this, I think, I could
I would have if I had known
I really could but me knowing
It maybe too well was not sure
What it was I could and the words
Were all against me and would not help.

Listening through the microscopes of power
I heard a rebec under an olive
Sing to me that certainly
My wife would leave me and go down
To live on the prose plains again.

This is a book. It is blue.
Those are pages. They are black and white.
That is a famous man. The worms
Do not know his name or color.

I am here very much at four
A.M. Am I in a deeper night
Than you whose eyeballs observe terrible
Encounters under your dream’s hill?
I am only still up out of sleep
Trying to burnish an implement
With my mind’s elbow grease to pack
In English and send off to you
For you to put on the mantlepiece.


Poem copyright of the Estate of W.S. Graham, 2018.

Source: Poetry (January 2018)
More Poems by W. S. Graham