When the melancholia blew in
like a storm off the North Atlantic
the ground we walked on sloped
all the way down to the little we
could remember, grew slippery
with loose pebbles of everything
we wanted to forget. We watched
a wild scattering of loss unfold—
the lives we had wanted to live,
or lived once, all falling away
into mists thick enough to hide
the sheep, make their bleating
sound like a mind in distress.
We waded in rainwater, rivers
of inexplicable fear, and it was
not from sadness we took refuge
in the lee of a ruin, a slate hut
herders were forced to abandon
in famine. A hillside of reminders
of how little we knew about fatal
sorrow, and indignity without end.
We gathered what we could imagine
of a suffering of such focus and density
it seemed sent to re-make the world
into fog, and reduce lives to shivers
so vicious no one could stop shaking.
Hope stared at nothing, with nothing
forthcoming. In a room without roof,
by a window minus its wall, I saw
a mind I loved could no longer go on.
I would have sheltered you from all,
but there was nothing but rain and wind
to hold onto. I blustered, I swore,
I shook you by the shoulders, thinking
there must be something I could do.
from The Looking House