Winter Coats

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

When I sit in the armchair
beneath the lamp’s small shade,
sometimes I feel how it might be

to almost float away— I listen
with half an ear to the talk
at the dining table,

the scrape of chairs in the TV
room above, the slam of a car door
in a neighboring driveway.

Outside, the night grows darker
and the moon prepares to rise.
What kind of sleep

does the body crave in winter?
We’ll all put on our heaviest
coats that fall

past our knees. We’ll wrap
our heads in scarves and cover
our ears. The banks

of the river are darker too
than plum, and all the boats
have come to rest at its hem.

 

In response to Via Negativa: Preparations.

Streetwise

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Up, and by coach to White Hall, and there in the long Matted Gallery I find Sir G. Carteret, Sir J. Minnes, and Sir W. Batten — and by and by comes the King to walk there with three or four with him; and soon as he saw us, says he, “Here is the Navy Office,” and there walked twenty turns the length of the gallery, talking, methought, but ordinary talke. By and by came the Duke, and he walked, and at last they went into the Duke’s lodgings. The King staid so long that we could not discourse with the Duke, and so we parted. I heard the Duke say that he was going to wear a perriwigg; and they say the King also will. I never till this day observed that the King is mighty gray.
Thence, meeting with Creed, walked with him to Westminster Hall, and thence by coach took up Mrs. Hunt, and carried her towards my house, and we light at the ‘Change, and sent her to my house, Creed and I to the Coffeehouse, and then to the ‘Change, and so home, and carried a barrel of oysters with us, and so to dinner, and after a good dinner left Mrs. Hunt and my wife making marmalett of quinces, and Creed and I to the perriwigg makers, but it being dark concluded of nothing, and so Creed went away, and I with Sir W. Pen, who spied me in the street, in his coach home.
There found them busy still, and I up to my vyall. Anon, the comfiture being well done, my wife and I took Mrs. Hunt at almost 9 at night by coach and carried Mrs. Hunt home, and did give her a box of sugar and a haunch of venison given me by my Lady the other day. We did not ‘light, but saw her within doors, and straight home, where after supper there happening some discourse where my wife thought she had taken Jane in a lie, she told me of it mighty triumphantly, but I, not seeing reason to conclude it a lie, was vexed, and my wife and I to very high words, wherein I up to my chamber, and she by and by followed me up, and to very bad words from her to me, calling me perfidious and man of no conscience, whatever I pretend to, and I know not what, which troubled me mightily, and though I would allow something to her passion, yet I see again and again that she spoke but somewhat of what she had in her heart. But I tempered myself very well, so as that though we went to bed with discontent she yielded to me and began to be fond, so that being willing myself to peace, we did before we sleep become very good friends, it being past 12 o’clock, and so with good hearts and joy to rest.

I walk the length of the dark street
a busy confiture of doors and high words

where I pretend to know trouble
and pass some heart tempered with sleep


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 2 November 1663.

Preparations

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

(Lord’s day). This morning my brother’s man brought me a new black baize waistecoate, faced with silke, which I put on from this day, laying by half-shirts for this winter. He brought me also my new gowne of purple shagg, trimmed with gold, very handsome; he also brought me as a gift from my brother, a velvet hat, very fine to ride in, and the fashion, which pleases me very well, to which end, I believe, he sent it me, for he knows I had lately been angry with him.
Up and to church with my wife, and at noon dined at home alone, a good calves head boiled and dumplings, an excellent dinner methought it was.
Then to church again, whither Sir W. Pen came, the first time he has been at church these several months, he having been sicke all the while.
Home and to my office, where I taught my wife some part of subtraction, and then fell myself to set some papers of my last night’s accounts in order, and so to supper home, and after supper another bout at arithmetique with my wife, and then to my office again and made an end of my papers, and so home to prayers, and then to read my vowes, and to bed.

a black coat for winter
old as the fashion for a calf’s head boiled

has the art of subtraction set me up
with my wife of paper


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 1 November 1663.

Moat

photo of weeping willows

photo of weeping willows

My castle has a moat
bordered by weeping willows
and filled with tears.
Great blue herons pattern the sky
with dinosaur wings.
They land and line the bank,
erect and still as meditating monks
in grey-blue robes, no longer
prehistoric but eternal.
Happiness holds my hand as, slowly,
we walk to raise the drawbridge.