Hold Everything Dear by Gareth Evans

Hold Everything Dear by Gareth Evans
for John Berger

as the brick of the afternoon stores the rose heat of the journey

as the rose buds a green room to breathe
and blossoms like the wind

as the thinning birches whisper their silver stories of the wind to the urgent
in the trucks

as the leaves of the hedge store the light
that the moment thought it had lost

as the nest of her wrist beats like the chest of a wren in the morning air

as the chorus of the earth find their eyes in the sky
and unwrap them to each other in the teeming dark

hold everything dear

the calligraphy of birds across the morning
the million hands of the axe, the soft hand of the earth
one step ahead of time
the broken teeth of tribes and their long place
steppe-scattered and together
clay’s small, surviving handle, the near ghost of a jug
carrying itself towards us through the soil

the pledge of offered arms,
the single sheet that is our common walking
the map of the palm held
in a knot
but given as a torch

hold everything dear

the paths they make towards us and how far we open towards them

the justice of a grass that unravels palaces but shelters the songs of the searching

the vessel that names the waves, the jug of this life, as it fills with the days
as it sinks to become what it loves

memory that grows into a shape the tree always knew as a seed

the words
the bread

the child who reaches for the truths beyond the door

the yearning to begin again together
animals keen inside the parliament of the world

the people in the room the people in the street the people

hold everything dear

From Hold Everything Dear: Dispatches on Survival and Resistance by John Berger


Love Song by Denise Levertov

My dearest T., yes, I had seen the flowers many times but you pointed to their light heads bobbing in the wind and said, look, heart’s ease, before we walked on.

I turned a corner today (or so I think).

I’ve liked changing with you.

Love Song
Denise Levertov

Your beauty, which I lost sight of once
for a long time, is long,
not symmetrical, and wears
the earth colors that make me see it.

A long beauty, what is that?
A song
that can be sung over and over,
long notes or long bones.

Love is a landscape the long mountains
define but don’t
shut off from the
unseeable distance.

In fall, in fall,
your trees stretch
their long arms in sleeves
of earth-red and

sky-yellow. I take
long walks among them. The grapes
that need frost to ripen them

are amber and grow deep in the
hedge, half-concealed,
the way your beauty grows in long tendrils
half in darkness.

Of Being by Denise Levertov

My dearest T., I am thinking of the story of the boy whose hat hid a whole village. You said that the skies were outside the hat and I declared that they lay within. We argued about this, and each time we were astonished at the other’s stupidity.


Of Being
Denise Levertov

I know this happiness
is provisional:

the looming presences —
great suffering, great fear —

withdraw only
into peripheral vision:

but ineluctable this shimmering
of wind in the blue leaves:

this flood of stillness
widening the lake of sky:

this need to dance,
this need to kneel:
this mystery:


I’m leaning against that colon, brownie.



From Substitution by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

My dearest T., sleep has not brought rest. I am outside my body these days. It will pass soon. I am trying to give myself over to the work that needs to be done. Perhaps absences that only shook hands with each other became better acquainted and that has brought on this tiredness.

I was thinking of your speech the other day; how rough and unvarnished it was, full of home questions.

Back to work now.

When some beloved voice, that was to you
Both sound and sweetness, faileth suddenly,
And silence against which you dare not cry
Aches round you like a strong disease and new—
What hope? what help? what music will undo
That silence to your sense?

From Substitution by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Those of us who think we know by Stephen Dunn

My dearest T., my fingers are so cold. Everything is yours.

Those of us who think we know
Stephen Dunn

Those of us who think we know
the same secrets
are silent together most of the time,
for us there is eloquence
in desire, and for a while
when in love and exhausted
it’s enough to nod like shy horses
and come together
in a quiet ceremony of tongues

it’s in disappointment we look for words
to convince us
the spaces between stars are nothing
to worry about,
it’s when those secrets burst
in that emptiness between our hearts
and the lumps in our throats.
And the words we find
are always insufficient, like love,
though they are often lovely
and all we have

A Clearing

My dearest T., I want to walk with you. I want to see that look in your eyes that lets me inside all of your stories; that is somehow a passage into the whole length of your striving and while I’ve always admired your measured and precise turn of phrase, it is this that I hold close to my heart.

I dream of a quiet man
Wendell Berry

I dream of a quiet man
who explains nothing and defends
nothing, but only knows
where the rarest wildflowers
are blooming, and who goes,
and finds that he is smiling
not by his own will.

The Patience of Ordinary Things by Pat Schneider

When my father passed away, the tree pie and the fig tree in my garden and the frangipani blossoms I saw on my way to work, held me together. I was consoled by the harsh chatter of the tree pie, eased somehow by the soft thud of the figs as they fell down and the flowers on the leafless branches became resting places. And feeling like I belonged to them made me feel like my father’s daughter in an entirely unexpected way. This poem always reminds of his lightness and grace.

The Patience of Ordinary Things
Pat Schneider

It is a kind of love, is it not?
How the cup holds the tea,
How the chair stands sturdy and foursquare,
How the floor receives the bottoms of shoes
Or toes. How soles of feet know
Where they’re supposed to be.
I’ve been thinking about the patience
Of ordinary things, how clothes
Wait respectfully in closets
And soap dries quietly in the dish,
And towels drink the wet
From the skin of the back.
And the lovely repetition of stairs.
And what is more generous than a window?