The following poem was motivated in part by reflection on my vague curiosity as to what such "translations" would look like.
A matter perhaps related: I so love being a grandparent that I'm beginning to wonder whether I can ever write another poem without at least some oblique mention of those beloved children. At all events, here we go:
My wife of three decades is at work
already. Retired, I have time to consider
the smell of her cheek when she came indoors
from this morning’s chill. Can there be a heaven?
If so, it will hang in the air, that odor.
I’m not alone.
I have dear friends of a certain age
who scan the notices of death
like me, first thing, in the local paper,
comparing the age of the vanished with theirs.
We reckon the years we likely have left.
“A good, full life”–
that’s the cliché for those gone at 80.
I’m 72. I guess I’d expect
in heaven to hear babblings from our youngest of five
grandchildren, the constantly smiling Ruthie,
seven months old, and the wise-guy remarks
of her big sister Ivy,
the insouciant ones of her twin brother Creston.
Who’s afraid of Big Bad Death?
Not I. It’s what I’ll leave that hurts me,
including just now the best two dogs
we’ve owned, however we loved the rest.
It’s 20 below,
male pointer and female retriever nestle
by the reddened woodstove, tight together.
Outside, pine siskins jostle the feeder
and juncos peck their spills on snow.
We can see, in such clear and brilliant weather,
all the way to the mountains,
the rugged Whites beyond the river.
My wife and I love walking along
that totem flow on this side from New Hampshire.
Yesterday, after thaw and freeze,
the streambed’s ice chunks slapped back the sun
like gigantic gems.
I’ve had this late urge to go back and revise
my poems from an earlier time. Who failed
to be a little naïve when young?
There was so much I couldn’t imagine back then.
I had scarcely dreamed the oldest grandchild,
of voice, sharp of humor, her four-year-old brother
Arthur, who loves to tie me to chairs.
I tell myself now: Look up, out the window.
It’s a Monday, blunt cold, in February,
8 a.m. in the Year of Our Lord
when beleaguered deer are forced to keep moving
for fear of freezing if they pause too long,
when a sleek doe tiptoes down our drive,
her ten-month-old twin offspring behind her–
three silhouettes against whited lawn.
It’s been a hard winter,
with more to come, but they look so alive.