THE DAYS GO BY
for Daniel Weissbort
Some poems meant only for my eyes
About a grief I can’t let go
But I want to, want to throw
It away like an old worn-out cloak
Or screw up like a ball of over-written
Trash and toss into the corner bin.
I said it must come up or out
I don't know which but either way
Will do, I know I can't write in the vein
Of ‘Bridge’ this time, it takes an optimistic view,
Bright day stuff, sunlight on
Roundhay Park's Childrens’ Day
Or just wandering round the streets
With Margaret, occasionally stopping
To whisper or to kiss.
Now over sixty I wonder
How and where to go from here
Daniel your rolled out verse
Unending Kaddish gave me hints
But what can you or anyone say
About our son, the other one, who from
Such a bright childhood came to such
Dreamless sleep is better than the consciousness
Of bitter days; I sit in silent prayer and read
Of Job, the Prodigal, the Sermon on the Mount.
I read and think and sigh aloud to my silent,
I write him letters long or short
About the weather or a book I've read and hope
His studies are kept up.
I can’t say ‘How much
Do you drink? Is it more or less or just the same?’
Its your own life
But then its partly one we shared for years
From birth along a road I thought we went
Along as one.
Some years ago I sensed a change,
An invisible glass wall between us, between
It seemed you and everyone, the way friends
Hurried past, patting your shoulder in passing,
A joke in the pub, the Leeds boy who'd made good
Then threw it all away for drink.
Your boxed-up books, texts in five languages
Or six, the well-thumbed classics worn cassettes
Of Bach, Tippett’s ‘Knot Garden’, invitation
Cards, the total waste, my own and your’s and her’s.
Love does not seem an answer
That you want to know,
The hours, the years of waiting
Gather loss on loss until
My hopes are brief as days
That rush and go like speeding trains
That never stop.
You drink, I pay,
You ramble through an odd text-book
And go and eat and drink and talk
And lose your way, then phone
‘To set things straight’ but nothing’s
Ever straight with you, the binges
Start and stop, a local train that
Locals know will never go beyond
The halt where only you get off.