Margo

- 1940-

Can she be planted where the corner of the garden’s rocks are down?

I would like bleeding heart or fuchsia to redden the banks

In their brief seasons. Rain, rain, Irish rain.

Diamonds on the stamens when the sun goes blind.

And sweet pea, pale pink, pale blue, perfume.

Please, if you can, make sure there is an ash tree, young and tight and green.

And bring back the smell of turf for the burning. Of her. Of me.

Unday

From no nowhere not near the sea
on blue field flax
the cemetery's absolutely solitary
you and you and a third

of a pound of bread
for supper in the refectory
where I would die of hunger
if you--if soon--if on this unday--one

undoing would be undone

Far and Away [excerpt]

The rain falls on.
Acres of violets unfold.
Dandelion, mayflower
Myrtle and forsythia follow.

The cardinals call to each other.
Echoes of delicate
Breath-broken whistles.

I know something now
About subject, object, verb
And about one word that fails
For lack of substance.

Now people say, He passed on
Instead of that.  Unit
Of space subtracted by one.
It almost rhymes with earth.

What is a poet but a person
Who lives on the ground
Who laughs and listens

Without pretension of knowing
Anything, driven by the lyric's
Quest for rest that never
(God willing) will be found?

Concord, kitchen table, 1966.
Corbetts, Creeley, a grandmother
And me.  Sweater, glasses,
One wet eye.

Lots of laughter
Before and after. Every meeting
Rhymed and fluttered into meter.
The beat was the message. . . .

			(for Robert Creeley)

Related Poems

Dusk

This is the place. No chairs.
A woman who is choosing
has sent a petal from her bloom
of conscious closing.

The woman who is choosing when
—scratches vellum. The rook stands.
The woman in the nest of
the phoenix hovers nearer
her edge like that brood of birthing

opal-throated pigeons in an empty
flower trough,
thirsty, one stair above my sill,
breaking their shells one by

one. She repeats
my words
from dusk in a jungle where
medicine leaned small against thorn trees.
Each poison growing in a forest

lives beside its antidote, we said.
I am still eager, I said.
Or the scent of hyacinth.
The woman remembering, who is

choosing when to die will
curl before leaves have blood-burned September.
Surrender by starvation,
she doesn’t name her illness

only how many days.
Three more. The woman
in worn white cotton washed us in a tide pool,
brewed petals, shouted under

egrets at the edge of rain. Bon voyage to me & love
life as you live it she scribbles blue before her breath
ends a night and a day and the broken slant
dawn.

The woman who was choosing when to die.
Too young to be skeletal, skin taken wing.
Bone no longer needed. Dove.
Fire-eyed. Distant. Opal.

The root does not care
where her water comes from.
Here is another thirsty body.
Broken into morning.

Spenser's Ireland

has not altered;—
   a place as kind as it is green,
   the greenest place I've never seen.
Every name is a tune.
Denunciations do not affect
	the culprit; nor blows, but it
is torture to him to not be spoken to.
They're natural,—
    the coat, like Venus'
mantle lined with stars,
buttoned close at the neck,-the sleeves new from disuse.

If in Ireland
   they play the harp backward at need,
   and gather at midday the seed
of the fern, eluding
their "giants all covered with iron," might
 there be fern seed for unlearn-
ing obduracy and for reinstating
the enchantment?
   Hindered characters
seldom have mothers
in Irish stories, but they all have grandmothers.

It was Irish;
   a match not a marriage was made
   when my great great grandmother'd said
with native genius for
disunion, "Although your suitor be
	perfection, one objection
is enough; he is not
Irish."  Outwitting
    the fairies, befriending the furies,
whoever again
and again says, "I'll never give in," never sees

that you're not free
   until you've been made captive by
   supreme belief,—credulity
you say?  When large dainty
fingers tremblingly divide the wings
 of the fly for mid-July
with a needle and wrap it with peacock-tail,
or tie wool and
    buzzard's wing, their pride,
like the enchanter's
is in care, not madness.  Concurring hands divide

flax for damask
   that when bleached by Irish weather
   has the silvered chamois-leather
water-tightness of a
skin.  Twisted torcs and gold new-moon-shaped
 lunulae aren't jewelry
like the purple-coral fuchsia-tree's.  Eire—
the guillemot
   so neat and the hen
of the heath and the
linnet spinet-sweet-bespeak relentlessness?  Then

they are to me
   like enchanted Earl Gerald who
   changed himself into a stag, to
a great green-eyed cat of
the mountain.  Discommodity makes
 them invisible; they've dis-
appeared.  The Irish say your trouble is their
trouble and your
    joy their joy?  I wish
I could believe it;
I am troubled, I'm dissatisfied, I'm Irish.

Did Not Come Back

In the roan hour between then & then again, the now, in the Babel
Of a sorrel ship gone horizontal to a prow of night, the breach of owls

Abducted by broad light, but blind, in the crime, the titanesque of rare
Assault—we who have come back—petitioning, from the chair

Electric with bad news, from the stunning, from the narrows
Of an evening gall, from the mooring of an hour slanted on the follow

Bow, she rose from a bed of Ireland like a flyted trout, a shiny
Marvel on the sailor's deck, an apologia—divining—

As once, as at a salted empire port, he washed
Her fleeted body & they lied, the best of them, the cream & crush

Of this, the madrigal & sacrifice of that, the best of them,
The slowest velvet suffocation of their kind, did not come

Whittled back by autumn, at an hour between thorn & chaff,
Not come riddled with oblivion, the crossing & a shepherd's staff,

The moment between Have & Shall Not Want, we who have salt
Always know, that we who have—the best of us—did not come back.