I keep a file of poems that inspire me, are well written and models for my own writing. Today’s poem is by someone unknown to me, and who does not have much of an online presence. I offer it today as I long for a walk in the woods, one that will have to wait until the temperatures climb a little higher.
Bittersweet, by T. Clayton Wood
We have come back to where we began,
returning from a dwelling where we’ve seen the city,
like the vague word unhappiness, spread out
below us in its monochrome and inscrutable geometry.
We amble along the bluffs.
Your black Labrador bounds ahead, but slows to sniff
the place where your first Lab is buried.
A slight depression made by the decaying body.
We pass a heap of feathers and bone as white
as the stone shore of the Sound, as the two gulls gliding
on the gale, as the caps on the water marbled by the wind
that from above appear as a struggle of mottled wings.
We are looking for the bright red, almost luminous, berries
called bittersweet that bead the otherwise bare branches.
Bursting from their gold cases, they look like drops of blood
giving an attenuated life to the fleshless hands of shades.
The word first attributed to Sappho
who grafted the opposites bitter and sweet to get
the sense of pleasure that comes with loss.
A taste as common and as implausible as death.
Like the word happiness. Think of it, and any sense of it is lost.
For happiness is not passion, but the absence of pain
and something like the loss of desire. Walking back with you,
we touch lightly and only sometimes. Bitter happiness. Sweet happiness.