Denise Levertov (24 October 1923 – 20 December 1997 / Ilford, Essex)
The clouds as I see them, rising
urgently, roseate in the
mounting of somber power
surging in evening haste over
roofs and hermetic
As if death had lit a pale light
in your flesh, your flesh
was cold to my touch, or not cold
but cool, cooling, as if the last traces
of warmth were still fading in you.
My thigh burned in cold fear where
yours touched it.
But I forced to mind my vision of a sky
close and enclosed, unlike the space in which these clouds move—
a sky of gray mist it appeared—
and how looking intently at it we saw
its gray was not gray but a milky white
in which radiant traces of opal greens,
fiery blues, gleamed, faded, gleamed again,
and how only then, seeing the color in the gray,
a field sprang into sight, extending
between where we stood and the horizon,
a field of freshest deep spiring grass
starred with dandelions,
green and gold
gold and green alternating in closewoven
chords, madrigal field.
Is death’s chill that visited our bed
other than what it seemed, is it
a gray to be watched keenly?
Wiping my glasses and leaning westward,
clearing my mind of the day’s mist and leaning
into myself to see
the colors of truth
I watch the clouds as I see them
in pomp advancing, pursuing
the fallen sun.
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