A Love Letter to Ted Hughes
I use your collected works
like an I Ching oracle – whenever
I am feeling used up
or rung out, or wordless, I haul it off the shelf
and flip to a page. Whatever is there,
I read it. I try to eat its wisdom,
a pretty little animal
in the literary food chain, carnivorous
and ready for spilled blood
and raw verbs.
But I am no thought-fox.
I am not a pike. I am
only myself, caught by my mortal
inspiration, or lack thereof.
Sometimes, my heart
needs sustenance, a helpful shove
in the right direction. You
(or more accurately your words)
supply it, leaving me forever grateful
to a dead man.
But it’s not just
your literary levity that captivates me.
I find that despite
all marriages and messes, I am
enchanted by you. In another time
and place, perhaps I would’ve
found you wandering Devon,
perhaps I would’ve smiled at you.
Maybe, we would’ve been lovers.
It’s odd to consider making love
to a dead man – but who hasn’t been there?
No, don’t answer that. It’s a purely rhetorical
question – call it a myth, and I’m sure
someone will believe it. (Open
mouth – insert Crow.)
I don’t care
about your sordid history, what did
(or did not) happen. Memory
rarely counts as reason enough
to believe in something; facts
can be manipulated, and lies
spread like a wildfire wrecking ball.
I prefer feelings to everything else.
Tell me what to feel.
Tell me about regret
and desire – speak, and I will listen.
I will fall down in to the river, the remains
of Elmet; I want to know
how it feels, how you feel underneath
the obvious adornments. Take it off,
take it all off. I’d like to watch you
strip off your syllables, ease out of those
conjugations that you clung to, secrets spilling out of you
in several different languages.
I don’t care what it might cost.
I don’t care what the consequences might be.
Poetry can raise the dead if you let it,
no spirit board necessary.