Remember I was older. If I fed
her some advice or praise it never led
to more that what an acolyte should know
who sees, and far above her, some pure light
transcending everything, whose shadows grow
the more encompassing from that great height.
I cannot say quite what I mean, but all
who heard her happiness were from that
time entrammelled in it, lost and had the sound
of their own pieces muted into mime
beside what pulled the roots up from the ground.
If there is magic in the world, that world awoke
to storms that wept with her, and rocks that broke.
All heard, within themselves and not by choice,
a woman's urgent, soft and swelling voice
express with tenderness a life betrayed
in scorching arias and then that long
diminishment with which our griefs are stayed
into an ever-sad but stabbing after-song
by which our spent emotions find their rest.
This is what I looked for, why I sung
in choirs and amateur recording groups,
and was quite popular and joined, or hung
about, in various well-known acting troupes.
Not full professional, that I couldn't claim,
but of a decent standard all the same.
How I earned by living, my daytime life,
of course was different. I had a wife
and two adoring children, with a house
down Bromley way, suburban but detached
with apple trees and garden that my spouse
gave endless hours to, and indeed had hatched
as part of our extended lifetime plan. If all
else fail we should be independent, self-
supporting, knowing happiness we had
was wholly owing to that commonwealth
of skills about the well-intentioned dad.
All families are happy in their several ways
as I was, certainly, in those first days.
I need to stress how settled, dull and plain
my circumstances were, and would remain
so, ever, if I'd had my way. I'm not
some master of the universe, no high-
placed roller piling up the chips he'd got
to cloud-topped altitudes nor seen before,
but slight, convivial, with a happy grin
most times: a small boy's freckled face with hair
that flops about, who wears a cardigan,
slack-sleeved in pubs, indeed most anywhere
with green-check shirt and tie-less if he can.
You've seen my type a thousand times in scenes
from Country Life or motoring magazines.