2nd Letter for Steen

The trees are no longer lineal, crisp; their edges
swell into the fog, at the top of the wood
no view but visible yellowish air.
The clean beck brims, the dogs
wade and lap, the mud’s yellow, the old snow’s
yellow. The horn at the lighthouse
goes on, goes off, mournful. Mette’s in again, a year ago
we thought it passing. And now another good friend.
Unseasonable. Am I exempt? There was a gale warning
earlier, but nothing moves, drops hang
on the grass, fall vertical under the branches.
I feel your large hand where it touched my shoulders,
flat and protective.
Pretend you have answers.
The open fields are utterly forsaken, the stench
of spring is everywhere. I will not walk
farther than this, I am going back.

Questions and Answers

What inspired “2nd Letter for Steen”?

A touch inspired it.

What poetic techniques did you use in “2nd Letter for Steen”?

Negatives again. The Objective Correlative—using the external, sensory facts of the scene to evoke the emotion of despair. Writing negatively about spring for a change.

This poem “2nd Letter for Steen” originally appeared in Poets & Politics. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 105 (Summer 1985): 99.

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