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After Francis Jammes

read by the author

In a few days it’s going to snow.
I remember myself a year ago
Feeling bleak by a deadfall fire.
If anyone had come by then to ask ‘What’s wrong?’
I would have told them, ‘Nothing, leave me be.’

I brooded much last year, I remember,
Pent in this room with the grey snow
Winding down. All to no good.
Today, as then, I puff my cherrywood
Pipe with its stem of amber.

My old oak dresser gives off the same fine smell.
And I was a fool because
So little can be changed,
And it’s a pose
To shrug away the facts we know so well.

Why do we bother to speak, and brood,
I ask myself. It’s odd.
Our feelings have no tongue, yet we understand them,
And the footsteps of a trusted friend
Please us more than a friendly word.

We have given names to all the planets
But do they hear them? And the crass
Figures, proving magnificent comets
Will pass in the dark
Don’t make them pass.

And where are all the old regrets
I brooded on? I can hardly recall.
If anyone today came by to ask
What’s wrong? I’d only say
‘Leave me be, it’s nothing. Nothing at all.’