Monday, November 28, 2005

Unwritten Letters

I.
Cathryn,
I was crying again by the statues in the garden,
The garden in Kent, the one we visited so often
When you were alive. The stone men, too,
Once breathed and cried real tears. I refuse to
Transmute my suffering into art. It is not ennobling.
I simply want to suffer. When I was a boy, remember,
They called me Mr. Cat for my nine lives. Listen:
The singer approaches the sotto voce in the requiem
For the living. The moon captures the stars in her
Empty quarter. I caught the train back to London
At half past eight and fell asleep watching the
Clouds descend on the blackened street signs. At
The station I woke to the heavy rain of my dream.

II.

When we were ill as children, you and I,
Mother bade us rest on the upstairs bed, under the quilt
She made as a schoolgirl. All day we listened to
The unharmonious strains of her favorite record on the
Phonograph: a cat’s screech. I cannot tell you how
Many times I thought of Father, what he was doing
That very moment in America. Your face was
Absolutely white, and your small body was soaked
With fever, a lantern in the rain. Then there were
Fairytales. I retrieved your china dolls from the
Chest in the nursery so we could play prince and
Princess in the faraway kingdom of health. We lived
In a crystal palace where there were no such things
As doctors, elixirs, neurasthenics, ice-cold baths.

III.

I remember your last days, the way you looked
Out the window as if you would be able to walk
There, into the yard, again. The evening sky was
Yellow with forsythia, and the moon swayed between
The two brightest stars. A stray planet disfigured
Virgo’s skeleton, the one fragile remnant of May.
Deeper into the failing light, the old tree we used
To climb was palsied, fraught with gypsy moths.
From the same window I watched the men digging
Your grave. The silent shovels entered the new earth
And rose again. Mother dressed you in white and
Threaded the beads through your fingers. I waited
At the gate of the cemetery, thinking of the Kentish
Garden and who would tend it this time of year.

4 Comments:

Blogger Taylor Altman said...

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