reading Eavan Boland after dinner

new dawn

You could say the days are ordinary. You wake, drink your coffee, think about the hours ahead. You don’t fill them. They unfold. Some days they are luxurious as silk, sequined and rich. Other days they are plain, the stuff of dishcloths and patched jeans.

You pierce a sequin with a needle.
You slide it down single-knotted thread
until it lies with all the others in
a puzzle of brightness.

At your desk, the essay you are writing reveals itself paragraph by paragraph. You know but you don’t know. When it’s finished, then what. It will join the others in a file that one day might be a book. At this point in your life, you know what to expect. You expect little. There are writers and writers. Some are like you, the ones who live in the texture of old stories, plant histories, the textiles made by hand and repaired again and again. When you say, I’ve done my best, a little voice asks quietly, But did you? You live in the beat between those sentences.

                                A glamorous circumference is
spinning on your needle, is
that moon in satin water…

It’s late in human history. Is it too late? You can’t say. Is it too late to sit on your deck after dinner, under the lattice of grape vines and wisteria, reading Eavan Boland to each other? The wine bottle sits on the table like a golden lamp, the soft light of early summer.

                                  …you will stitch that in

with the orchard colours of the first preserves
you make from the garden. You move the jars from
the pantry to the windowsill where
you can see them: winter jewels.

Is it too late to swim in the lake, light spangling the surface of the water as you push your arms forward to begin? In the green depths tiny fish are swimming, some of them singly, some in groups. When you meet the young bear on the path to the garden shed, you clap your hands loudly to send it on its way. Is it too late to wish for the hours to fill—forget unfolding!—with something more dramatic than paragraphs and needles, the arrivals and departures you once held in your heart as carefully as a daybook would, the hours, the hours, the ripening apples, the jars on the windowsill accumulating.

(Passages of poetry are from Eavan Boland’s “We Were Neutral in the War”.)

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