—i.m. Don Maclennan 1929–2009
In the middle of contemplating the strangeness of what
you might call ‘being conscious of self and world’,
I thought to ask what your ideas on the matter were,
imagining I’d find you asleep in the garden, your face
shaded by a battered old hat perched at
an odd angle, a book of Seferis half-open in your lap.
The photograph I have of you sitting in a striped deckchair
reminds me of just such a post-prandial afternoon
one spring when food and wine had all but overtaken speech
and intermittent conversation catalogued the losses
that accumulate: lovers; certainty; the strengths
we need to solve the singular puzzles of a sheer rock-face.
Bashō got it right. Examined up close, our anchors of love,
faith and joy, are fleeting, unfixed, more air
than anything else. Nothing’s ever the same as it was
a moment ago, before you read the lines you wrote.
Everything requires remaking and renewal.
That the centre doesn’t hold doesn’t matter—it never did.
from Blue Rivers (Plumstead: Snailpress/Crane River, 2011).