intro to poem

What’s Left

I used to wait for the flowers,

my pleasure reposed on them.

Now I like plants before they get to the blossom.

Leafy ones–foxgloves, comfrey, delphiniums–

fleshy tiers of strong leaves pushing upstock

into air grown daily lighter and more sheened

with bright dust like the eyeshadow

that tall young woman in the bookshop wears,

its shimmer and crumble on her white lids.

washThe washing sways on the line, the sparrows pull

at the heaps of drying weeds that I’ve left around.

Perhaps this is middle age. Untidy, unfinished,

knowing there’ll never be time now to finish,

liking the plants–their strong lives–

not caring about flowers, sitting in weeds

to write things down, look at things,

watching the sway of shirts on the line,

                                           the cloth filtering light.

I know more or less

how to live through my life now.

But I want to know how to live what’s left

with my eyes open and my hands open;

rain branchI want to stand at the door in the rain

listening, sniffing, gaping.

Fearful and joyous,

like an idiot before God.

“What’s Left” by Kerry Hardie, from Cry for the Hot Belly. © Gallery Books, 2001.