Near the Loire – a poem

stream


Memories. Reading this poem to Carlos Martínez Rivas in the lobby of the Sheraton Hotel in San José, Costa Rica in 1977. Directness and extreme simplicity. Yeats. Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams. The poem is a machine. The sad rose of all my days: the poetry in that simple metaphor. I remember a face and a gesture, a dress; long flowing hair, a smile, a kiss, none of which are in the poem below. That was another poem, adjacent to the one reprinted today, a couple of frames on in the stream. Wisdom out of the old days. Wisdom sometimes, not always, not often. Self-distrusting, despite the affirmations. Style. Self-conquest, reining in the tendency to be sentimental, striving for that sensual silence: passion but without thought. The expression of conviction, and how words can set a moment in stone, for all time. A moonless, wordless night. All my days. The sad rose. Self-distrusting. Word against word. Golden sunlight on the leaves. November. Berries still ripe for the picking. A black cat slips down from the garden wall, moves stealthily across the lawn. Time’s light footfall.


Near the Loire

River running without sound, cutting into the banks.
On the far side cattle are grazing, near side
an old man hunched over a rod, fishing.
Long path leading up to the house, past
a plot of vegetables, all looking dry, neglected.
Outside staircase to reach the bedrooms;
below, the dark kitchen, no hot water,
a primitive stove, low chairs, well polished
tiles; an old woman sitting beside a radio,
her face sunken into her body, groping
for the past. A dog barks in the yard,
stops, begins again and then wanders off
down the path towards the river, the man fishing.

John Lyons


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