Veronica Aaronson: Reminiscing With Philip Larkin

(For E .J. Kirby)

I winced when I heard about your mower stalling,
a hedgehog between its blades. Once a squirrel ran
under my car wheels, the jolt and my blurted-out
squeals live on, but the squirrel did not.

I tittered at your too-loud Here endeth in that
church you entered despite yourself. What pulls
me in is the vast space – being dwarfed by the height
and width of them.

I felt anguish for poor Mr. Bleaney – those curtains,
and the fusty bed! When I first left home I slept
on a damp mattress with musty sheets but only
for a few weeks.

I warmed to the stonemason who carved the Earl –
one hand gloveless to hold the hand of his lover,
and that sentiment that love is all of us that will survive –
so difficult to keep sight of.

I laughed fondly at those fools in old-style hats
and coats, just like Great-aunt Anna who always wore
her Sunday best underneath a pinafore with that
dreadful straw hat.

But when you pointed out, how difficult it is to find
words lying next to another in the dark, it so hit the mark
that something somersaulted inside my chest, wrapped
itself around my heart.