Dream Song 385

November 23, 2005

Around this time every year, I rummage around for this poem:

My daughter’s heavier. Light leaves are flying.
Everywhere in enormous numbers turkeys will be dying
and other birds, all their wings.
They never greatly flew. Did they wish to?
I should know. Off away somewhere once I knew
such things.

Or good Ralph Hodgson back then did, or does.
The man is dead whom Eliot praised. My praise
follows and flows too late.
Fall is grievy, brisk. Tears behind the eyes
almost fall. Fall comes to us as a prize
to rouse us toward our fate.

My house is made of wood and it’s made well,
unlike us. My house is older than Henry;
that’s fairly old.
If there were a middle   ground between things and the soul
or if the sky resembled more the sea,
I wouldn’t have to scold
                                                my heavy daughter.

It was one of the last poems John Berryman wrote before he committed suicide, but even without knowing that it captures the regretful sorrow of late November.