Our first Poem of the Month for 2021 comes from Derek Mahon’s recent collection, Washing Up.
Winter, and slow leaves clothed
in silence and yellow
give resplendent dictation.
I’m a book of snow,
an open hand, a wide meadow,
a hopeful horizon;
I belong to the earth and its winter.
The murmur of the world rose in the branches.
The months went by, the fugitive
sky was a bowl of summer
and the driving cloud dispersed.
As if the past were back, with its childhood ivy,
I waited in grief on the balcony
for the earth to stretch its wings
over my disinhabited love.
I knew the rose would wilt,
the seasonal peach-stone sleep and increase;
I drank air until
the whole sea went dark
and the rainbow turned to ashes.
But the world lives on,
softening its interrogation,
stretching the skin of its silence.
Come from afar, I’m taciturn now,
enveloped in cold rain and bells.
To the pure death of the earth I owe
my wish to germinate and grow.