Frieda Hughes & John Kin­sella

1st De­cem­ber 2003 & 2nd Novem­ber 2003

The London Magazine - - NEWS - Frieda Hughes and John Kin­sella

Dear John, Count­ing Bless­ings.

I put aside the idea of A let­ter-poem in May, in answer To your email – to visit A friend in Mel­bourne Who was dy­ing of can­cer. We’d visit the hus­band’s fa­ther too, But a week be­fore we left we knew He was dead, his wife Too boiled in spite to grieve, Hav­ing kept him bro­ken-legged In the bed, a fort­night un­til A blood-clot got him And he could fi­nally leave.

We vis­ited death every day As it took up res­i­dence in our friend’s face, Her skin, its mask, The scar on her bald skull Not as wide as her smile, Her fin­gers knit­ting up her past, Her present and the time left last As she spoke, as frank as the saw That cut her head open, As if she’d knit up the cra­nial hole And re­strain her evap­o­rat­ing soul. Hours with her were del­i­cate straws – like glass, Clasp too hard and all that’s left

Are scars and shards to mark the loss.

Back in Eng­land whole dead trees Piled on the mat by the mail­box, Sliced, pulped and rollered through print­ers, They’d col­lected in heaps. It took weeks To undo all the things de­layed Un­til I got back to let­ters in May.

We for­got our wed­ding an­niver­sary For the sev­enth time to­day. I was re­minded by dat­ing The back of a dog paint­ing, Re­al­is­ing she was as old as our mar­riage. We ate pizza from card­board And drank Veuve Clic­quot From fish-stemmed glasses, Bought on a walk in New York, And for a few mo­ments watched Each other’s colours sink Back into the stain Of our out­lines, il­lu­mi­nat­ing Our deep breath be­fore the next Up­heaval scat­ters our pur­pose again.

Love Frieda.

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