– What do you mean, you stupid old woman
by Christ I’m going to send you
to the place, just see if I don’t
where stupid old women are sent.
What else but spilt milk
is there to cry over? My whole life
look! oceans of spilt milk!
And you tell me there’s no use?
I watch you shuffling off through the doorway
the bent back, the frame, the relentless hatred;
oh yes, I’ve done it now – nothing good
she remembers, but she’ll remember this.
I’ll give you there’s no use, I’ll give you
what do you ever do for me, I’ll give you
this used to be a happy house, till you came!
No I won’t. I’ll be crying in the corner.
I’ll be saying, what happened to the nice old dame
who always cooked the comfort meat
all with the right balance of roots
who loaded us down with plant cuttings
who waited for us on the garden bench
and chided us for our lateness, in the dappled
sunshine under her flowering trees.
– That white bench out among the nettles, she says
should we bring it in where people can sit on it?
That one, I grunt (what’s wrong
with nettles?). It’s a green bench, I tell her.
Looks white to me, she says. The sunlight welling
through the studded hawthorn stems
turns her hair to black gloss, a fringe
of gold somewhere about – her complete
knowledge of dyeing, that’s what that is.
I’ve made mistakes in my life,
my dear, that you will never learn from.
I’ve seen whole horizons on fire
I was obliged to turn from;
I thought I would have a life:
children, wife, old people took it over.
They tell me this was my choice
people who look to live without
remorse, regret, who consider
(expressed in a clipped, clear voice)
empowerment’s the name of the game.
Soon the mayblossom will cover
these sharp ungainly sticks. Blossom
makes no demands, has no regret
does not dissent; it’s an apotheosis
of spilt milk frozen on some
ancient ineluctable frame.