August 1914 by Isaac Rosenberg

 

“What in our lives is burnt
In the fire of this?
The heart’s dear granary?
The much we shall miss?

 

Three lives hath one life—
Iron, honey, gold.
The gold, the honey gone—
Left is the hard and cold.

 

Iron are our lives
Molten right through our youth.
A burnt space through ripe fields,
A fair mouth’s broken tooth.”

someone’s great-grandmother

so I, gleaming in wedding blue,

say, “you look beautiful today!”

to lace on sky-cloth, hair like clouds

behind round-rimmed glass, her cerulean eyes glitter with tears

and she tells me that it can’t be true

her sister was always prettier, even when they were kids

so she just accepted it and kept living

 translucent skin quivering around cracked lipstick

and now she (thinks)knows she can’t be beautiful because she is 92 years old.

she loves my voice and hair, though. Heavens yes.

magazine catalog advertisement holiday

this thanks I give

over heavy-laden heads and hands

clenched

fingers red-white as they shake together.

watching the aged crown of white stammer,

tell me of your lifestory and cry proudly

over your grandchild’s hand,

his blue eyes are yours.