WestWords Perfect Pair 28.06.2014

Scottish born poet, prose writer, translator, and traveller, Alastair Reid has been a travelling correspondent for the New Yorker magazine since the 1950’s. He has published over 40 books including essays, poetry, children’s books and translations of many distinguished poets, such as Chile’s Pablo Neruda. His own publications include an early selected poems entitled Weathering in 1978 and the more recent 2008 selection, Inside Out, from which this poem is taken, it’s:

By Alastair Reid


Oddments, as when
You see through skin,
When flowers appear
To be eavesdropping,
Or music somewhere
Declares your mood;
When sleep fulfils
A feel of dying
Or fear makes ghosts
Of clothes on a chair.

Inklings, as when
Some room rhymes
With a lost time,
Or a book reads
Like a well-known dream;
When a smell recalls
Portraits, funerals,
When a wish happens
Or a mirror sees
Through distances.

Omens, as when
A shadow from nowhere
Falls on a wall,
When a bird seems
To mimic your name,
When a cat eyes you
As though it knew
Or, heavy with augury,
A crow caws
Cras cras from a tree.

Moments, as when
The air’s awareness
Makes guesses true,
When a hand’s touch
Speaks past a speech
Or when, in poise,
Two sympathies
Lighten each other,
And love occurs
Like song, like weather.