Somebody has been reading
Book of the Week
but the radio’s off. I’ve heard the gale-warning
for the sea south of us.
runs caressingly down the outside walls
of every room.
Yesterday, two printed
death-announcements arrested me, the first
for a man rich in honours
who had made a hundred and one,
the second, right above it,
for a child who ‘fell asleep’ on her first day.
The rain quickens and falters, quickens.
Grief gusts around us
in stories we shall never know.
To report on the dreadful
with an unflinching voice,
is that poetry?
life is terrible, man a morass
Or to move
like a person of leisure, of dreamed-of leisure,
from long curtained rooms
to the bright thriving garden?
as we would have it?
all you want is a few words
that will say how hard it was for us
at one a.m. on a Wednesday morning
so clearly that a thousand years may hear.
from Small Hours (Faber, 2010), © Lachlan MacKinnon 2010, used by permission of the author and publisher, Faber & Faber Ltd.