Dedication

In memoriam Jaime Ann Krell Lass
1937-2005

Oh, said I, my friend and lover,
take we now that ship and sail
Outward in the ebb of hues and
steer upon the sunset trail;
Leave the night to fall behind us
and the clouding counties leave:
Help for you and me is yonder,
in a haven west of eve.

A.E. Housman, The land of Biscay

The stars have not dealt me the worst they could do:
My pleasures are plenty, my troubles are two.
But oh, my two troubles they reave me of rest,
The brains in my head and the heart in my breast.

Oh, grant me the ease that is granted so free,
The birthright of multitudes, give it to me,
That relish their victuals and rest on their bed
With flint in the bosom and guts in the head.

A.E. Housman

An observing gift from a friend
Margaret Laing, ‘Bipolar Night’ (1998)

Your solitary hermit mind descends
Obliquely into its own cold
Convolutions,
Shrinking from the convivial
Sun of company,
To seek protection
In the reflective
Spiral of the self.

Friends, like uncertain
Visitors at a shuttered house,
Press anxious noses
To the darkened pane. Opaque. Then prowl
Around the outer fence to probe
The exclusion zone
And check for signs of life.

Hardly aloof,
I wait, observing your retreat.
Preserving space
Not distance.
And practise puzzled patience
Out in the warm.