Poem Beginning With a Line by Eve Merriam
I am telling my hands
to be still. They do not want
to be still. My hands are grey,
they are not clean,
they long to be grey again.
There is much they have seen
and cannot speak of.
I have told them
they are beautiful
but they will not listen.
Fidgeting towards silence
is their gift, picking up objects
and placing them back again.
They will not sit
still, joined by hope or nothing
on the dials of old radios, cuttings
from newspapers, pencil-shavings
in a desk-drawer.
My hands gaze up at me with love.
I cannot look at them.
They tell me they are proud
of what I have done.
Do not be afraid, they say,
let us explain to you the truth
of your life: you are loved,
you are more than your hands.
for Ann Gray
When I am on my deathbed
recalling life-changing art
this is the reading I will keep.
One filthy night in Cornwall:
the soddenness in our bones,
rain on the slates and teacups,
as Anthony spoke about Melville
and Matthew suicide and fire.
We did not ‘wait five more minutes’;
the car park did not burst
with a coach trip. We were there,
we can say it, to hear Anthony pull
Berryman from memory,
their warmth and mutual respect
both blanket and shield to the elements,
two voices and hail on the roof,
the bookstall groaning behind them.
When Matthew invited us to stay with him,
he explained we were already in Oregon,
I mean it, I would love it, you and all your dogs.
Anthony Wilson is a poet, writing tutor, blogger and Senior Lecturer at the Graduate School of Education, University of Exeter. His most recent books are Riddance (Worple Press, 2012) and a prose memoir of cancer, Love for Now (Impress Books, 2012). He is the editor of the forthcoming Lifesaving Poems (Bloodaxe, 2015), based on his blog of the same name. A researcher in the field of poetry in education, he is co-editor of Making Poetry Matter (Bloomsbury, 2013) and Making Poetry Happen (Bloomsbury, 2015). He blogs at www.anthonywilsonpoetry.com