No Poem for Weeks Now

1 May 2017

for David Brooks

Nothing for weeks, no urgent need,
no jolt. Instead, I sit in a café reading,
only occasionally looking up to see
students wearing expensive
headphones, as they text or talk
on their mobiles. I think about my life,
nothing much is ever truly planned,
so much just fallen into. But there’s pleasure
in the sometimes lonely drift, the tender
space between the trees as I remember
the old man sitting under the pawlonias
on his rush seat in the winter sun,
gathering poems and holding a cup
of treasured wine – occasionally looking
through his round gate at the bare trees
and at boys walking the muddied lane
beyond his walls – richer lads chattering
in groups and picking up their robes
to save their silks, poorer ones in workers’
drab cloth, arms tanned by the sun
of the sorghum fields. They laugh and chatter
sharing secrets as they drudge or pick
their way through mud and dung, oblivious
to the old poet, tying a red, deliberate ribbon
around his sheath of poems.

The title, ‘No poem for weeks now’ is borrowed from a poem in David Brooks’s collection Open House.

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