Last Word - Poem by Mark Murphy
It would seem that I am ill-equipped to deal
with your latest news; how my inadequacies
must disturb you. My room gets lonelier
by the minute and the gloom outside
more oppressive, but I’ll not draw back
the blinds, at least, not until my words
can learn how to behave. You’ll see then,
my boldness was not misplaced.
Simply to hold you without the narration
of distance, old words and phrases echoing,
my brain wild to the prospects of memory.
I whisper your name. All evening, I pursue
my own reflection, afraid to answer the door,
in case the person standing there isn’t you
but some other stranger, not at all convinced,
or even moved by my shadow-play.
The other night, do you remember
the other night, my last letter, my language
was so carefree. I felt so close to you,
sealing the envelope was almost unthinkable.
You must forgive me for not realising
your other commitments. I’m a fool to hope
for too much. It’s just that I can’t attend
to anything that happens beyond us.
I found your letter, dated 25th November,
and read with awe the most heartfelt line
you ever wrote me: Even our frenzied differences
are compelled to draw us closer than before.
When I read that, I knew we were right
for one another. I’m with you, yet, I’m dumb
before your words, unable to articulate
any response to your honest appraisal of us.
I’m so eager for knowledge of your well-being;
my room’s become impossible without your constant
reassurance. I know this is no good thing
but I’m convinced it can’t be any other way.
It seems like forever since you last wrote.
Perhaps you’re too ill to write, or worse,
there’s someone else and you’ve forgotten
our little arrangement. I expect the worst.
Afforded these moments to write, separate
and alone, I imagine my life without you,
wondering if my loneliness will affect you
or will you simply think me overbearing again.
I fear this more than anything. My seriousness
is bound to drive you further away. Just listen to me,
wanting all the time our failure, willing it,
goading it, yet all along despising and fearing it.
I wonder what’s left except what’s past.
You must come soon before my words lose all sense
of proportion. My mood’s so dark, if only I could see
the world through your eyes. Then, my dream of us
wouldn’t cause this needless distress.
As I moisten the gum on my latest letter,
a sudden light penetrates the black out;
only my thoughts of you keep me from failure.
We’re standing by the lake, our lake in the late
afternoon, water laps at our feet. I glance
in your direction, thinking such openness
doesn’t deserve mention. The world of bodies
doesn’t deserve such light. For an instant,
you’re with me, then the light fades
and I’m back in my little room, with the blinds
drawn and sheets at the window.
How much should I tell you, even now,
though this, in all likelihood
will be the last time I speak your name,
even though it’s far too late for excuses.
So many revelations, and not a single one
to make things plain; my love
these lines, possibly our last lines together
are simply signposts to what is unknowable.
I’m painting you because I’m clean out of words.
I’ve written you and thought for some years
about the possibility of sculpture
but my hands are clumsy and my words too shy.
Like all the other men who’ve loved you
I want you to love me the most.
It’s raining and I can see you nude
by the window and you laugh as though in-love for the first time.
Listening to Satie’s Gnossiennes, every note
is struck with you in mind, yet every note
is out of reach and I’m frightened because
I can no longer remember the colour of your eyes
or the shape of your fingers stretching
to make the keys. The realm of pure emotions,
the world without conditions is closing
and the realisation is unbearable because it is impassable.
My hand flounders across the page,
incapable of writing anything reasonable.
I’m unable to quantify how I feel in any normal sense
of the word. It’s no longer sufficient to say:
I want you. I need you. I love you.
My words have become fractious, they bray
at the door, imploring you to let them in,
only their noisy insistence falls away like dreams.
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