I cull and offer this and this,
and these last definite whorls
or later star or flower, such
rare dark in another world,
outdistancing us, madness
upon madness, the crest
and hollow, the lift and fall,
ah drift, so soft, so light,
where rollers shot with blue
cut under deeper blue as the
tide slackens when the roar of
a dropped wave breaks into it,
and under and under, this
is clear—soft kisses like bright
flowers— why do you dart and
pulse till all the dark is home?
I am scattered in its whirl.
This cento last appeared here in October 2016, and is composed exclusively of lines taken from fifteen pages in the Collected Poems of H.D., 6th printing, 1945. Hilda Doolittle is a fascinating figure in 20th century American poetry. You might look at the Poetry Foundation’s biography for further information:
always falling to its lowest point
before receding. Water graces us
daily in all its forms – the slowest
drop, the line of ice on the wall,
your breath, so soft and even
in the cool night. But no one,
no thing, can fill the void of
departure. You exhale and turn
away, and the air, with its empty
arms, embraces the space
you’ve left. I feel this daily,
whenever we part. At forty-one
I’ve known you half my life
but have loved you even longer,
through the millennium’s demise
and all that preceded or follows.
The brightest moon for a century to come
is but a shadow in your light.
It’s hard to believe that I wrote “December Moon” over eighteen years ago. Busy with books, work and life, I didn’t write much in the nineties. But this, the last poem of that decade, surfaced a few years ago. The sentiments are as true today as they were then. I am a lucky man.