Nap alm†††† Health†††† Spa:†††† Report†††† 2006






Making the hay mattress



The best part of all that was dancing:

In August, when she did the summer cleaning

She threw away the mattress and the pillows

Stripping the beds to ideas of beds on the empty floor,

Where, with hammer and nails she reinforced

The shapes of the wobbly wooden frames.


Then in a new white case we stuffed fresh hay;

After she sealed it tight, she summoned the children to dance

To make a hora on top, to even out the surface

And soften the flowers and grass.


Barefoot, we took dance lessons on the mattress case

Stomped our feet and clapped our hands and laughed.

So it came to be that until she died, each August there were

Days when we danced and nights when we slept on flowers.




Note to a suicide



Neruda saw happiness at the rim of a wineglass, love

In bullet-laced violins (but I am paraphrasing)

Oh, his women are still bread doubling up at breasts

To be loved by one who would never end up sliced on tracks!


See Venice in the winter-flooding, when the sea licks

Pink marble steps, white chairs swimming in their chains

Outside the restaurant where a song burning in the chest

Of the piano makes you forget your feet soaked in the Adriatic!


And here in your Oxford, the daffodils didnít care about you:

Volcanically they spilled over grass and crocuses,

Swans fight with the geese over their bit of the pond

Drawing a clock on the face of the water, past the vernal equinox


I am sorry you have become only the devastating noise of that day.

There is nothing between you and me other than the cross

Between your death and my continuing life: the tracks were washed

I gave my statement to the Police, I did my strangerís duty.




Padua train station

††††††††††††††††††† For my cousin Titi



Ten years on you pass by your own blood

As the trains halt to greetings and goodbyes,

Both of you away from your country,

Meeting in a place where the language

Is the one which neither of you speaks:

On this trip you sought a reunion.


First ten years of your life he raised you,

Fed you, scolded you, watched over you

With kind blue eyes, taught you how to know

The rhythm of the land, the right procession

For weddings and funerals, helped you

Get on the horse and instruct it to stop and go.


And here, in the Christmas chill at the station

You pass by each other twice with thumping hearts:

When he grabs your arm you arch:

Oh, God, how you have answered my prayer

To live on the side of forgetting, how his blue eyes

Flicker with pain in the chiselled strangerís face!


We visit Giottoís frescoes restored and unveiled

For the first time in twenty years: on one side

There is the life which leads to hell,

On the other is the life which leads to heaven

And above, Giotto blue with golden stars,

Above which the Padua sky opens grey silences

Over the piazza and the narrow streets.







Above the pond the colour of mud, the sun

Spits bits of gold through ruptured clouds,

And here we are at the end of all words

After the bound blood released what was you

Spiriting it into gleanings.


You could have died inside of me when

I was daydreaming about building the first

Sandcastle together at the Sleeping Bear Dunes


(But now I think that was a bad omen for there also,

The legend says, the two young bears

Could not cross the water and died

Before the mother fell asleep on the shore

With her back to the sun, looking at two islands.)


Or maybe you stopped living when I thought

You were building yourself heart walls

As I was moving gingerly around the house

Smiling at how you brought all the words into me:


Cantare, iubirea, family, nastere


Now the house is orderly, the bruises in my arms

And hands are turning yellowish from blue,

We have come to the end of grief, children.


Whatever you see now is not this world

And I will never see your faces: in my one dream

You were beautiful.