Three-sevenths of my precious world
is under water, no longer responding to signals,
desparate signals, sent out by a mind, a brain,
itself water-logged, now somewhat clogged
by thoughts. O God, thoughts! Them things.
I recall an old newsreel, possibly from the BBC,
some hesitant bloke at the top of the Eiffel Tower,
strapped into homemade wings, his own invention,
hoping against hope he can fly. He stands thinking
much like me: I will, I won't. I must, I can't.
In late August at the Berghof, 1939,
an angry roiling sky of purple, green, azure, pink
confronts Herr Hitler and his retinue
on the very day the Soviet pact is signed
and they stand and look, appalled: this means
death and rivers of blood cries a Hungarian lady:
Was muss sein muss sein, barks a rattled Fuehrer,
thinking men, not the gods, control destiny.
Our man on the Eiffel Tower pauses ... now he jumps!
He drops like a stone, a few moments for final thoughts,
maybe like Hitler. Sense of the end before the sickening SPLAT.
Expectation can make cowards of us all.
We do many things we do not want to, do not have to do
out of pride, out of the shame of turning back,
often out of the fear of being seen to turn back.
It is a feature of the weak to carry through with their convictions.
In the face of much misery and boredom there may be love
for the lucky few: there are times, my dear, when it seems
that the world passes by in a great parade, a rigoumalade
of kings and emperors, ticker-tapes for heroes, marching soldiers
and blasting bands and bunting, wild and waving cheering crowds.
It is never a bad thing to have a holiday: elections and wars
in their starting and in their ending seem to fill the streets
with non-involved citizens in an excess of emotion, an expression
of their national, safely removed, detached and private feeling.
Coming back from the war, this left me reeling.
I was unimpressed. I think this is true for all temporary soldiers.
I thought I might find some private paradise
between your thighs, heaving and groaning with gasping sighs,
but found instead your face and eyes, and something else.
When we visit Paris, long after this, our splendid honeymoon,
I shall not jump off the Eiffel Tower, with or without wings.
I shall do nothing to displease you, love, unless my love
you hold my hand. So easy then to jump together.