ISSUE 17
August 2001

Peter Robinson

 

Peter Robinson is the author of numerous volumes of poetry, translations and criticism. His most recent publications include a new collection of poems, About Time Too (Carcanet, 2001) and The Thing About Roy Fisher: Critical Studies (Liverpool University Press, 2000), co-edited with John Kerrigan.
Sheet-Lightning    Click to hear in real audio

                He saw
an immense prospect; it went;
and the world was as before.

—Thomas Hardy

Low on this horizon, as we drove,
sheet-lightning glimmered through cloud cover
and just now arriving it broke on us
in great rain splotches.
                   So we ran for it,
sheltered where the old world had been stored
—as if repairing from life's main force
among poor daubs, musty tomes and the worse
furniture waiting to be restored.

The August thunder, or what I thought rain
pummeled on that roof's defective skylights;
but, battering at them, hail's ice pellets
pattered on cracked varnish and veneer.

Though the heavens had pressed their point here,
none of those objects tickled your palates.
So we left it: human-made impossibilities
of the everyday in place now as before.

*

Another time, when summer lightning started
in sheet flashes or forks on all sides,
you were returning, late, down mountains'
switch-back curves and instantly saw
immense prospects: insistently, a city's
complexes came and then went with loud reports.

Later, a balcony French window fixed open
against oppressive heat, that night sky
kept on cracking out light; impossibilities
being shown up repeatedly for what they are,
I lay awake fathoming how change happens—
seeing as it's not too late to try.

 

 

Peter Robinson: Poetry
Copyright © 2001 The Cortland Review Issue 17The Cortland Review