I ... entered the poem of life, whose purpose is ... simply to witness the beauties of the world, to discover the many forms that love can take. (Barabara Blackman in 'Glass After Glass')

These poems are works in progress and may be updated without notice. Nevertheless copyright applies to all writings here and all photos (which are either my own or used with permission). Thank you for your comments. I read and appreciate them all, and reply here to specific points that seem to need it — or as I have the leisure. Otherwise I reciprocate by reading and commenting on your blog posts as much as possible.

7 January 2012

'Sad Am I Without Thee'

I liked the last turn of the last page
of the school choir songbook,
where we came to the Maori lament —
because it was beautiful: sweet
mournful notes and mellifluous
syllables of a foreign language,
finishing with the plaintive
long-drawn-out English: ‘Sad am I
without thee.’ We would sigh then
softly, on the last out-breath
before closing the book.

This is what comes to me now,
with your lingering death
finally accomplished, New Zealand girl.
Although you were not Maori,
perhaps you won’t mind that I return
to that most lonely and lovely lament
in my long memory, when I think of you.
Which at present is all the time.

I am sadness incarnate,
it lives in my body, shakes me
like the seizures you had,
doubles me over and throws me
into an absence of comfort, the pit
of black grief, abysmal
contemplation of
how young you were, Penelope.

I am old, but already
life calls me back to itself.
From the bedroom, my husband
in pain, is talking to me as if
I could hear, and I do hear
as he crashes to the floor.
I pick him up, massage his foot,
help him to the bathroom and back.
The cat on the bed murmurs
to greet me; I croon in return.
My body is crying for coffee.

You were here, you are gone.
I have spent all night
and half the morning weeping.
I know you loved me.
You knew I loved you.
I wanted to save
your stories and poems and paintings, but
the world is full of art.

Strangely, the world
is full of you. You can’t be cancelled.
I drink my coffee deep.
Tonight I shall watch
a show you would have liked too
on TV. Tonight
I’ll turn the next page. What comes after
‘Sad am I without thee’?

A 'page turner' poem submitted for dVerse / M:/P MAG collaboration.


  1. wow...what an emotional pull in this one...really good too...so glad the editors at MP get to judge this...smiles...best of luck to you with it...

  2. "I know you loved me.
    You knew I loved you.
    I wanted to save
    your stories and poems and paintings, but
    the world is full of art. "


    and sympathies

  3. This is just so beautifully written, it resonates on so many levels.

  4. Thanks, Merlene, I appreciate your comment.