I am old enough now for a tree
once planted, knee high, to have grown to be
twenty times me,
and to have seen babies marry, and heroes grow deaf -
but that's enough meaning-of-life.
It's living through time we ought to be connoisseurs of.
From wearing a face all this time, I am made aware
of the maps faces are, of the inside wear and tear.
I take to faces that have come far.
In my father's carved face, the bright eye
he sometimes would look out of, seeing a long way
through all the tree-rings of his history.
I am awed by how things weather: an oak mantel
in the house in Spain, fingered to a sheen,
the marks of hands leaned into the lintel,
the tokens in the drawer I sometimes touch -
a crystal lived-in on a trip, the watch
my father's wrist wore to a thin gold sandwich.
It is an equilibrium
that breasts the cresting seasons but still stays calm
and keeps warm. It deserves a good name.
Weathering. Patina, gloss, and whorl.
The trunk of the almond tree, gnarled but still fruitful.
Weathering is what I would like to do well.
from Inside Out: Selected Poetry and Translations (Polygon, 2008), © Alastair Reid 1978, 2008 used by permission of the author.