Oct 19 — two long marriages with October anniversaries — a Denise Levertov poem

Friday, October 19  –  “. . . not because mind and memory
falter, but . . . ”

Mid October, a chilly, breath-taking weekend across the whole city at the end of this work week.  Along with emerging autumn colors and glorious skies, we also live within confusing angers, looking out toward a momentous mid-term election now a matter of days away.   There is, though, more on offer than weather and public tensions; today one of Denise Levertov’s delicate poems reminded me that October, for me, comes alive with two marriages. One I have known all my life and one is a friendship of two decades:    my dad died October 12, 1970 and my mom died one week and 25 years later, at age 102.   Last Sunday Barbara Shaffer, who has grieved her husband of 58 years who died the day before my dad,  Bill Shaffer, a Vet and a member of the UAW.  Their daughter Sarah is a peer counselor in San Francisco for Vets who suffer from PTSD.

I found a poem Denise Levertov’s Evening Train.  Some poems look out onto vast realities;  some open into intimate, enduring, resonant love.  That’s today’s “In Love.”  A university engages many sorts of reality.  That’s what we do here.

Best to read this a couple times,  out loud with pauses.

Have a blest Friday in this mid-October week.    Crisp autumn sun and wind gusts;  the sun rides lower in the heavens each day all the way til December’s Solstice.

john sj

Today’s Post   “In Love”

Over gin and tonic (an unusual treat) the ancient poet
haltingly —            not because mind and memory
falter, but because language, now,
weary from so many years
of intense partnership,
comes stiffly to her summons,
with unsure footing —
recounts, for the first time in my hearing, each step
of that graceful sarabande, her husband’s
last days, last minutes, fifteen years ago.

She files her belongings freestyle, jumbled
in plastic bags — poems, old letters, ribbons,
old socks, an empty picture frame;
but keeps her fifty years of marriage wrapped, flawless,
in something we sense and almost see —
diaphanous as those saris one can pass through a wedding ring.


Denise Levertov  1923 – 1997
first Posted on October 19, 2015

This entry was posted in Mission and Identity. Bookmark the permalink.