(To Nevill Coghill my teacher)
Risers a masonry class:
plumb perfect, six hundred years.
At their turn by the landing an
arch glows, yellow with sun. My dropped
coin rings, silver-belled.
I leapt these stairs in spring then
before grapes and cheese, sprawled picnics,
suppers drenched in Bordeaux. Before
births, breached knees, the fall. Now
ballast slows me. Yet
cresting this climb still I see you:
a cave bear shambling, crag-browed,
awkward as condors, all
tweed knobs and angles. You loom
like an oak; ask
does Lear curse the storm?
though we both know curses are
sideshows. Acceptance, acceptance
matters -- the proud soaked head erect,
wind stooped over,
rattling with rain. It’s balance
that’s kingly; and the long silent quest
when we wrestled as equals
for essence; when I leafed out, a
green willow by water,
found footed order. Found judgment
was rooted in love.