This is another love/rejection poem – this time by British poet Julia Copus. More information and other poems by Copus can be found on the Poetry Archive Website.
Like the Carol Ann Duffy poem in the first week, ‘The Last Post’, this is a poem that tries to undo what has happened: ‘This is the poem in which I have not left you’ and ‘since I dare not speak, nothing transpires’ and ‘this is the poem in which we do not part,/ but lie like lovers, one of whom is sleeping’.
It is a poem that tells a story with precise detail: ‘the pink-faced landlady’, ‘the humming of streetlights’, ‘the narrow driveway of the cottage’ and the yellow walls and broken gate of that cottage.
This is the Poem in which I Have Not Left You by Julia Copus
This is the poem in which I have not left you.
The doors of the Green Dragon are not bolted
behind our backs; the pink-faced landlady
(may she be blessed) has not abandoned us
to the unseasonable cold, that March
evening of your thirty-seventh year.
In the gloom that hangs over South Street, in the quiet
made of the humming of streetlights and the moon
and a few thin clouds that are passing over the moon,
the horn from a distant freight-train does not sound;
I do not turn (my tongue is tied, my hands);
whatever there is to say is left unsaid.
And since I dare not speak, nothing transpires:
the street, in the moments after, does not shrink
to the slam of a door, the flare of an engine, you
suddenly elsewhere, you imagined, gone,
but seen, still seen (the night stretching between us),
cursing the fog on the Blackdowns, curving, finally,
into the narrow driveway of the cottage.
Our cottage, I meant to say, with its yellow walls,
its broken gate – I might have forgotten those,
and the fields and the light, were it not for the fact
that this is the poem in which we do not part,
but lie like lovers, one of whom is sleeping,
my head, as always, nearest the leaky window
through which the old sounds reach me – rain in the trees,
a gust of wind, a tipper-truck, a siren
threading its way through the dark (but you’ll not wake;
your ears are shut, you won’t admit a thing).
Then further off, after the rain is done,
the voice of the redstart calling do it, do it!,
calling from the smallest tree in the garden.