Shredded—my kite—in the myriad-snagged
crabapple crown, the cane cross-piece flailing;
a dark wind visible even deep in the hedge.
I knew then how much my eros
was emptiness, thorn-fixed on desolation,
as rain rode up Severn and we, on high ground
eastward, scarped and broke it, like some beleaguered
folk of the Heptarchy.
If it’s the brunt of years and luck turned savage
this is our last call, difficult coda
to the facility, the bane of speech,
a taint of richesse in the haggard seasons,
withdrawing a Welsh iron-puddler’s portion, his
penny a week insurance cum burial fund,
cashing in pain itself, stark induration,
something saved for, brought home, stuck on the mantel,
industry’s knack, say, of bright Whitby jet,
randomness added to, the Family Bible
its own inventory. Egregious Randolph Ash,
Possession—the film—excited me, the sex,
those marked-up brooches, sombre aery genius
ours at a price. Insuperable jokes
as someone far off said, hilariously.
The things that strike us can be patented.
I add—on oath (as prudent as you get)—
that the Welsh puddler’s my great grandfather,
from near Newtown, brought to the Black Country,
his house on Furnace Row stands in the census.
This is as formal as a curse or cry,
the verse, I mean. Puddling’s a way of life
and deadly in its kind, but more an art
than is some hammered threnos. Even so.
End that I saw how much is gift-entailed,
great grandson, and son, of defeated men,
in my childhood, that is. Even so I hope—
not believe, hope—our variously laboured
ways notwithstanding—we shall accountably
launch into death on a broad arc; our dark
abrupt spirit with fourth day constellations
that stood assembled to its first unknowing—
which is an abashed way invoking light,
the beatific vision, a species of heaven,
the presence of the first mover and all that,
great grandfather and Dante’s Paradiso
understanding each other straight-on, to perfection.
I fear to wander in unbroken darkness
even with those I love. I know that sounds
a damn-fool thing to say.
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 26 Number 4, on page 33
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