Aileen Kelly died peacefully this morning. She had been ill for a long time. She was a profound influence on me in both my writing and personal life. I will miss her being in the world. This was a poem I wrote when we regularly workshopped our poems together.
When You Leave
We never have enough time
husbands, children, engagements
clamour, bang spoons
while we rush words together.
When you leave I wish I had said less,
finished my sentences.
I never know when to stop
always exceed the speed limit
while you speak with scientific precision
eight kilometres past the hundred
and your foot over the brake.
It's not for that I want to say I love you
it's those wild angels tugging at the seams of your poems
the way burst through the careful sonnets
dancing on large, unruly feet.
When you leave I wish I had touched you,
or given you something in return for your symphonic voice
still echoing in all this sudden room.
I look at my cowardly hands,
my small collection of books, the red apples on the bench.
If I send this unsigned
will you know it's from me?
Consider it an apple,
or the caress I withheld;
this is my hand resting on your cheek for one quiet moment.
Catherine Bateson, The Vigilant Heart, University of Queensland Press, 1998.
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