To Aeronwy Thomas

I remember that day a year before you died
when Dan announced to the St Paul's coffee-group
that you, Aeronwy Thomas,
daughter of my all-time-favourite poet,
would be reading that night at the Grolier.
I didn't go. I had some weak excuse:
didn't want to leave my apartment,
didn't want to travel in the dark.

Perhaps I was afraid --
afraid of how I'd react to seeing in person
Dylan Thomas's daughter!
I might have burst into tears,
or into nervous explosions of words,
blubbering and gushing praises
to your late father.

Your father wasn't just a poet to me.
He wasn't the down-to-earth Seamus Heaney
signing my copy of Field Work, and smiling
at my teenage exuberance.
He wasn't John Ashbery, delightfully bickering
with James Merrill about the double sestina
in that legendary twin bill of a reading
at Mount Holyoke.

Dylan Thomas taught me my own language.
He was a working-class lad from the "provinces"
with a tenth-grade education,
a young dog roaring like a druid lion,
a verbal Merlin on a pagan sabbath
glorying the grass, brooks, nooks, dales, vales,
the oceans above, alive and bright with stars; --
hymnographer of a bellicose century,
voice of a curly cardigan'd angel
thundering peace to the coal-black veins of the earth.

My idol's middle child,
I put your name through the YouTube search engine,
and found you reading your own poems
from a book called Later than Laugharne.

How shall I describe your voice?
I'll steal from Dante Gabriel Rossetti:
It was "a hand laid softly on the soul."

When I heard the first few words you spoke --
"My name is Aeronwy Thomas" --
I started weeping.

You are almost as familiar as family,
since your father's name and work
so filled and thrilled my adolescence
among triple-deckers and fire-hydrants,
among noise and airports and America.

I learned by heart his psalms to the estuary
stretching beneath the Boat House,
his hymns to the cormorant, to
herons and shells
that speak seven seas
eternal waters away
from the cities of nine days' night ...

Your father in the flesh
was my father in the art.

Poetry by Uncle Meridian The PoetBay support member heart!
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Written on 2023-01-21 at 00:51

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arquious The PoetBay support member heart!
'Father in the art!' now that is a fine a title as one can get and I do reckon him worthy of that entitlement.