1476 Slices
Medium 9781847770684

Day Patient (WUL, 2)

Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF

A Cure

I have known partings when

There was warning and preparation,

Plenty of time to put on

The masks, the night expression,

There was an ordered form,

A kind of ritual.

Almost I felt at home

With partings habitual,

Never I think before

Have I been so suddenly fronted

With pain I have no masks for.

Is this perhaps what you wanted –

To see me stripped, afraid,

Open to every feeling.

Knowing my self displayed

Would itself be a healing?

Day Patient

Low, stagnant, spending the day

Sleeping or smoking. Now that I have gone

The whole scene horrifies me more – the way

Life has ebbed, ebbed; I don’t know why.

Sometimes two rows of knitting are done

Tears trickle down my cheeks, and

I feel there’s a certain hostility here;

I am half-stranger and half-friend.

Most of them want me to disappear.

As quickly as possible I go. You see

I am afraid this is not the end;

I know I’m not better and selfishly

I want to get away, I am afraid

Someone will stop me (as they often did),

And tell me their symptoms; I shall be delayed.

I too feel guilty and cannot bear

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Not Mine

Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF

Not Mine

Take my hands, full moon, take my

Aspirations. Take my hope,

You stars that spread the sky

And I can feel my scope

For joy increasing but it is not ‘I’

Any longer. I am lost in leaves

Falling and staying. In the harvest I

Gathered the corn with power

Of memory and imaginings. I beg,

I cannot stop it, that the last full hour

Of Summer stay with me till Spring next year.

Over and Over

Over and over they suffer, the gentle creatures,

The frightened deer, the mice in the corn to be gathered,

Over and over we cry, alone or together.

And we weep for a lot we scarcely understand,

Wondering why we are here and what we mean

And why there are huge stars and volcanic eruptions,

Earthquakes, desperate disasters of many kinds.

What is the answer? Is there

One? There are many. Most of us forget

The times when the going sun was a blaze of gold

And the blue hung behind it and we were the whole of awe,

We forget the moments of love and cast out time

And the children who come to us trusting the answers we give

To their difficult and important questions. And there

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A Living Death

Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF

Shapes and patterns and sounds.

The hurdy-gurdy took me up to levels

Where only Mozart can carry me now, and now

Is brief and the future’s on me so fast as it was not

In the sleepy leisurely moments when I lay

With my eyes closed yet watching the galloping horses,

Riding upon them, their bodies plump to my thighs,

My hands on their manes. They galloped me into the dark

Of the real dreams of sleep.

But I speak of departing and parting

And family quarrels and angry words and the hurting

Disclosures of cruel truths we cannot retract

Though we only said them in fury.

I know to the quick that each one of us is special,

Unique, particular, odd, lovable, stubborn,

Bound in the flesh and beating against barriers,

Loving the dark bodily pleasures but feeling

Always let down much later.

For I know that we all have eaten the shining apple,

Plucked it, gripped it, ruined each other with it

And yet there are transient Edens where music plays

Ineffable joys and we know that this planet is not

One among all the other orbs and stars

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The Annunciation

Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF

Close by the flowers that fling me back to England –

The bleeding poppy and the dusty vetch

And all blue flowers reflecting back the sky –

It is not peace I feel but some nostalgia,

So that a hand which draws a shutter back,

An eye which warms as it observes a child,

Hurt me with homesickness. Peace pales and withers.

The doves demur, an English voice divides

The distances. It is the afternoon,

But here siesta has no place because

All of the day is strung with silences.

Bells wound the air and I remember one

Who long ago confided how such ringing

Brought salt into their mouth, tears to their eyes.

I think I understand a mood like that:

Doves, bells, the silent hills, O all the trappings

We dress our plans of peace in, fail me now.

I search some shadow wider than my own,

Some apprehension which requires no mood

Of local silence or a sense of prayer –

An open glance that looks from some high window

And illustrates a need I wish to share.

The Annunciation

Nothing will ease the pain to come

Though now she sits in ecstasy

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A Happy End

Elizabeth Jennings Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF

winter wind


Near the End

The time may come I’m so old I’ll need

To count up animals and birds I can

Depend upon – birds not too shy to feed

Out of my hands, a sentimental cat

Who makes bread on my knees, and things like that.

For all the world of men will draw away,

But peacefully. Perhaps a child or two

Will come to call because they want to stay

An hour, admire my animals and be

Hiders of death and its anxiety.

But may I not invest too much in things,

Be miserly with objects, but rely

More on what walks away, what flies and sings,

In short, what warms my hands, sharpens my eye,

Hoodwinking me with hopes that I shan’t die.

A Happy End

Perhaps I’ll go to the jungle when I am old,

Go down where the snakes hide and the parrots scream.

I shall not mind the heat or the sudden cold.

Close to death, I shall be at one with extreme

Weathers. Back and back I’ll go to when man

First named these creatures. Perhaps, also like him,

I’ll paint the ways of beasts when they began,

Use a child’s colours before my eyes grow dim,

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