All my life
I was face to face
with her, at meal—times,
by the fire, even
in the ultimate intimacies
of the bed. You could have asked,
then, for information
about her? There was a room
apart she kept herself in,
teasing me by leading me
to its glass door, only
to confront me with
my reflection. I learned from her
even so. Walking her shore
I found things cast up
from her depths that spoke
to me of another order,
worshipper as I was
of untamed nature. She fetched
her treasures from art’s
storehouse: pieces of old
lace, delicate as frost;
china from a forgotten
period; a purse more valuable
than anything it could contain.
Coming in from the fields
with my offering of flowers
I found her garden
had forestalled me in providing
civilities for my desk.
‘Tell me about life,’
I would say, ‘you who were
its messenger in the delivery
of our child.’ Her eyes had a
fine shame, remembering her privacy
being invaded from further off than
she expected. ‘Do you think
death is the end?’ frivolously
I would ask her. I recall
now the swiftness of its arrival
wrenching her lip down, and how
the upper remained firm,
reticent as the bud that is
the precursor of the flower.

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