Three Poems for My Husband
walking to the hospital
How the autumn dawn burned through
the misty broods and settled down in fire;
how quickly the sun glittered my shadow,
how my shadow cried, a moment, with joy.
A light frost, a vision of light crackling
down the maples, down the tinder ash.
I was the good thief. I held my Love’s
sweet breath, his beautiful, intelligent gaze.
I closed my eyes and he woke inside me.
When I saw, he saw the inflamed world.
A bird sang deeply from the gutter eaves.
When I closed my eyes I was elsewhere.
I walked through the fire of his sleep.
tonight Fionnuala is your nurse.
You’ll hear her voice sing-song around the ward
lifting a wing at the shore of your darkness.
I heard that, in another life, she too journeyed
through a storm, a kind of curse, with the ocean
rising darkly around her, fierce with cold,
and no resting place, only the frozen
rocks that tore her feet, the light on her shoulders.
And no cure there but to wait it out.
If, while I’m gone, your fever comes down—
if the small, salt-laden shapes of her song
appear as a first glimmer of earth-light,
follow the sweet, hopeful voice of that landing.
She will keep you safe beneath her wing.
in your sleep
After “The Lark Ascending” by Ralph Vaughan Williams
The moment the lark finally vanishes
into the spread green sky of the forest
is the moment you suddenly lift
your bruised arm up, over your body,
as though to show me the wing’s eclipse,
or the wing, or the season of your dream.
And even as your hand lapses silent
onto your chest, and your breath goes
sluggish, I am already watching your feet
prepare their slow first step under the sheet
as the last notes of sunlight fall quiet,
and you do not move again. My love,
are you a bird reviving in a summer field?
Was it the lark ascending that you heard,
a ghost among its shy-hearted tunes?
Yes. I heard the lark escaping, too.