Poems from Intimately Absent
Visit to Abelard and Heloise at the Paraclete
Twilight darkens the Paraclete,
and the half-moon holds its breath.
Even the clouds seem to shed tears
about the news of Abelard’s death.
May Heloise find oblivion,
unveiled in earth’s musk,
in a grave stripped of dreams
and quickly return to dust.
The grey shade rings with a quiet
so complete it kills all pain.
Shadows sift over them like powder
then take flight before the oncoming rain.
Whirling butterflies through air
the wind utters a groan
as morning stars glitter,
imperious and unknown.
An angel spreads his wings
over earth’s rimpled hide,
heralding the arctic hour
the quiet by which we abide.
Crows keep watch over absence
from a nest of speckled light.
Who still dares to bemoan
lost time, longing’s last rite?
the moon pulses, in starry thrall
iambs of dark, light, dark, light
so many centuries and their fall
an angel surveys the grave
its faint splashes of old stars
then dusts off the ashen wave
he bends over a tomb’s dim stone
and reads a last line of verse:
the uprising of flesh and bone
Visit to the grave of Abelard and Heloise at Père Lachaise, 12 June 2009
Sombre clouds mass as I sink to my knees,
tongue-tied, in this holy place.
Here, the dead are held in darkest sleep,
folded in shadows like lace.
In a remote corner
a tree holds up its shaky throne.
There lie Abelard and Heloise
cast for centuries in stone.
Their hands clasp intimate prayers –
candle-smoke in shades of grey.
On a bed of rock,
cradled in song, the lovers sway.