August 29, 2010



Drawing calmed you. Your poker infernal pen
Was like a branding iron. Objects
Suffered into their new presence, tortured
Into final position. As you drew
I felt released, calm. Time opened
When you drew the market at Benidorm.
I sat near you, scribbling something.
Hours burned away. The stall-keepers
Kept coming to see you had them properly.
We sat on those steps, in our rope-soles,
And were happy. Our tourist novelty
Had worn off, we knew our own ways
Through the town's runs. We were familiar
Foreign objects. When he's sold his bananas
The banana seller gave us a solo
Violin performance on his banana stalk.
Everybody crowded to praise your drawing.
You drew doggedly on, arresting details,
Till you had the whole scene imprisoned.
Here it is. You rescued for ever
Our otherwise lost morning. Your patience,
Your lip-gnawing scowl, got the portrait
Of a market-place that still slept
In the Middle Ages. Just before
It woke and disappeared
Under the screams of a million summer migrants
And the cliff of dazzling hotels. As your hand
Went under Heptonstall to be held
By endless darkness. While my pen travels on
Only two hundred miles from your hand,
Holding this memory of your red, white-spotted bandanna,
Your shorts, your short-sleeves jumper-
One of the thirty I lugged around Europe-
And your long brown legs, propping your pad,
And the contemplative calm
I drank from your concentrated quiet,
In this contemplative calm
Now I drink from your stillness that neither
Of us can disturb or escape.

-Ted Hughes (Birthday Letters)


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