His wife used to come to my flat —
She was tall, dark haired, her skin
Very pale. Sometimes he’d follow
Soon after. We were always
In a hurry. Once or twice he was
There at the door so quick I thought
We’d had it. Now I don’t know.
What was it all about? That was
In Chelsea, years ago — our flats
A short walk apart. The things
You think of at funerals. Out there,
Through the window, all sorts
Of birds are picking out the last,
Big, hanging orange persimmons.
The leaves are such mixes of colours —
Yellows, reds, green, some almost
As rich as the fruit. The celebrant
Doesn’t have a clue. He presses on,
Making the most of the usual
Platitudes, working them for all
They’re worth. His tone is unctuous.
But what else is possible without
Beliefs? His life was led and it came
To an end. What’s there to offer
By way of consolation but these
Fatuous words? Yes, he’ll live on
In our memories. So pale she was,
And this fruit so huge, so bright.
Harold Jones was born in New Zealand in 1952 and read English at Cambridge University. His poetry has appeared in a range of New Zealand and international journals, and he was also published as part of AUP New Poets 4. This poem comes from his debut collection, Curriculum Vitae. The collection is downright incredible (if you want to read my full rave I’ve written a review for the next issue of New Zealand Books). You can also read other poems from the collection on Google Books, but I suggest buying a copy.
For more Tuesday poems, check out the hub.