It's Lighter When the Sun Shines





The meer trees cast no coolness were you go.

Your small feet press no smallness into the grass.

I know your mourn of days, and mourn I know.

All hues beneath the ground are bare grayness.


When I was young, I might have touched your hair,

Gestured my warning, how that fire will gray,

Slight arms and delicate hands fall heavier,

And pale feet hasten to a dark delay.


Now old, I love you slowly, through my sound.

Lightly alive, you cannot mourn for trees.

You cannot care how grass, about the ground,

Gathers to mold you shadow's quick caress.


Heavy for you, I hear the futile speech

Of air in trees, of shadows in your hair.

Quick to go by me now, beyond my reach,

You pause. With darkness deepening everywhere,


Something of light falls, pitiful and kind.

Something of love forgot the dark embrace

Of evening, where the lover's eyes go blind

With dreaming on the hollows of your face.


James Wright








     She has set the table, and brought to perfection in her mind what her

lover, seated opposite her, will answer softly in a little while, looking in her

face. This food is like the reed of an oboe.

      Under the table now, her naked ankles caress her lover’s warmth, while

voices which she does not hear, compliments her. The beam of the lamp

tangles, weaves her voluptuous distraction.

     Far away a bed lies patient and trembling in the exile of its fragrant covers,

like a mountain lake that will never be abandoned.


René Char, translated by James Wright






It's Lighter When the Sun Shines, My Mother's Vision


Certain, there were dark days in the room

with the two walls of windows, the sunroom we called it,

where the tv filled the emptinesses

so we didn't have to talk, where we lived our life


in fear of you, but so familiar was it, that we knew no better.

Nor did you. We may as well have been

on tv, playing roles, we were very good at it.

Then, something changed. Perhaps it was the politics,


a change in social consciousness, an awareness

that dawned organically, and it was shocking to find

so much damage had been done for so long, to so many,

while no one was watching, a great societal shudder


passed amongst us, even into our little sunlit room.

We changed, all of us, you as well, we've gave you credit

for that while blaming you for too much, for our own faults,

more than you deserved. Once the blame started to fall,


it was hard to stop. When I was little, and still innocent,

I loved coming into that sunlit room in the late afternoon

when you came home from work, and though you were terrifying,

you had yet to terrify me, and to be in your presence


was to be in the presence of something greater

than teachers and crushes. You were a presence, and maybe

you had yet to feel your own demons, yet to be consumed,

yet to unleash whatever it was that turned you so ugly.


I think I remember the room clearly, but I don't.

The titles of books are indistinct, but the labels are clear —

Martini & Rossi, Gordons, J & B, Smirnoff; and mom,

a pretending presence, knitting relentlessly.


I have to write of this in the past tense. The room

may still be there, but we are not. You are not.

So many bad things happened, so many sad memories

seem to have begun in that room.


I think of this only because of something I read today.

I haven't thought it, or you, in a long time. I wish

we had had more sense, all of us. It didn't have to be

so hard. We made it so, and you were young, and scared.





Poetry by one trick pony The PoetBay support member heart!
Read 477 times
Written on 2015-03-21 at 05:45

dott Save as a bookmark (requires login)
dott Write a comment (requires login)
dott Send as email (requires login)
dott Print text

I knew you would find something in James Wright that resonates.

Your elegy is beautiful and never crosses that fine and indistinct line into maudlin memories or pathos. I think this subject is one of the most difficult things we can write about and write well . . . in childhood we haven't the words for it, and as adults we no longer think as children and come to it by the long path of the past, all our experiences along the way that necessarily shape now what happened then. I think if you were to revisit this years from now you would write something not different but in a different way, through the lens of a perspective focused from an angle not realized before. Both would be true.