Thirty-Four Weeks

Art critic John Berger died today, at age 90. His About Looking was a source of inspiration for me during the writing of The News, and a quote from that book made it in as the epigraph to one of the poems, "Thirty-Four Weeks". The poem:

Thirty-Four Weeks

“Hope attracts, radiates as a point, to which one wants to be near, from which one wants to measure. Doubt has no centre and is ubiquitous.”
- John Berger

At night white-bellied bugs throng
the cabin window, gathering light
from the bedroom’s single bulb.

Your mother returns from the dark
lake, the energy in her now
to read a few more pages while I write.

Her feet touching, knees apart, I tipped
her hips back towards alignment. Gripped
each heal and pulled. Elbowed elastic knots.

That was hours ago, when men
in speedboats sloshed
at the ankles of everyone’s vacations.

Now the sound of neighbours’ hide-and-seek
has been replaced by this new longing
plinking the glass.

Somewhere a bomb’s gone off, the sound
filling every fissure of a city.
It will be days till we learn where.

Your mother drops her hair
around her face and rubs it with a towel,
orange with a yellow sun.

You hang, hammocked
in sleep, as always
after swimming.

You’ll soon know day from night.
But first, I pray, you’ll sense
this rustling ochre light.

Thank you, John Berger, for your radiant thoughts.

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