All I Hope
All I hope, not knowing you yet, is danger.
You veto hope: then I must be oblique,
ventriloquise from zero, call you unique.
And yet my love considers you no stranger.
In brassy plangency my blues belie
a dead thrush in my chest. What needs saying?
There’s no hustling love, there’s no staying –
no rate, no good control, no augury.
I give you me, my heart, Elizabeth –
even to say it and the thrush is warm.
Then there is hope. Sweetheart – what harm?
Again it moves, the lake of dank, the death.
What other speech, what ice helps, what disguise?
O there was freedom somewhere between our eyes!
An image designed to put off a girl for ever, I would imagine; not that I saw it then. Looking back I begin to see how the engagement with words in poetry gave me a way to know and be at home in the bounds of existence – whatever the quality of any individual piece. Now to make a statement in song – however inappositely – would always give me something to do and in a sense a place to be. But I was hardly at home with the medium yet – or with myself.