We’re known by time
(rudiments of a letter)
It is our lot to let ourselves be shaken
from word’s pockets like the change
once from the crumbling lining
of your coat – all that rebounds
with the steely sound of poverty houses
what we’re unable to accommodate.
The whole world in so doing speaks our signs
and would ascribe to us more than we ever lose.
I think of floors, of huge and hefty flagstones
in the houses where you were blond,
of the kitchen sink and the pumps in their noble
anger round the taps of stainless steel that had
parched their throats, how wheezingly they coughed
when you yanked their arms, breathed a
final breath over water deep down
in those shafts, and think too of the staircase
so decayed that I outtaxed its strength
and shot through heel and all.
I had gone there to see if in a chink or much
too loose a joint they still were lying there concealed.
I hear the dance of copper on the stairs,
all that babbling speech along your shins,
and still recall, father, that even then I found
it strange: the quarters fell the quickest,
the smallest one farthest, the lightest one lowest.