Denise Levertov

24 October 1923 – 20 December 1997 / Ilford, Essex

From The Roof

This wild night, gathering the washing as if it were flowers
      &n bsp;   animal vines twisting over the line and
           slapping my face lightly, soundless merriment
           in the gesticulations of shirtsleeves,
I recall out of my joy a night of misery

walking in the dark and the wind over broken earth,
      &nb sp;   halfmade foundations and unfinished
     &nbsp ;    drainage trenches and the spaced-out
     &nbsp ;               circles of glaring light
      &nbs p;   marking streets that were to be
walking with you but so far from you,

and now alone in October's
first decision towards winter, so close to you--
      &nbs p;   my arms full of playful rebellious linen, a freighter
           going down-river two blocks away, outward bound,
      &nb sp;   the green wolf-eyes of the Harborside Terminal
      & nbsp;       &n bsp;     glittering on the Jersey shore,
and a train somewhere under ground bringing you towards me
to our new living-place from which we can see

a river and its traffic (the Hudson and the
hidden river, who can say which it is we see, we see
something of both. Or who can say
the crippled broom-vendor yesterday, who passed
just as we needed a new broom, was not
one of the Hidden Ones?)
      &nb sp;   Crates of fruit are unloading
           across the street on the cobbles,
      & nbsp;   and a brazier flaring
      &n bsp;   to warm the men and burn trash. He wished us
luck when we bought the broom. But not luck
brought us here. By design

clean air and cold wind polish
the river lights, by design
we are to live now in a new place.
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