Saturday, July 2, 2011


Night Visitor

So many people pass through the ward, no one
will notice me, I think. And open a door
on darkness, silence and a shaft of light
entering a window. The patients are asleep,
humped dark shapes except one naked back
rising out of the bedclothes, white and smooth
in the moonlight as a Rodin marble, intent
on sleep, not love -- man, woman? I can't tell,
the head's cradled in shadows, unknowable
like the other bodies. Which are not at peace,
have suffered, will again, and if I'm careless now
will wake to pain, but for this one bare hour
keep their shared solitude, as in a library
full of absorbed readers. To that place,
though I'm dreaming too, I have no entrance ticket.

Engraving (top) depicts Florence Nightingale succoring the soldier/victims of the Crimean War. Poem is by Jan Montefiore from the June 17th issue of the Times Literary Supplement. Photo (bottom) is from the long mystical library scequence in the 1987 Wim Wenders film, Wings of Desire.