Under the plum tree, in the sun, an old man,
reads the last paragraphs of ‘Wuthering Heights’.
‘My walk home was lengthened by a diversion
in the direction of the kirk. When beneath
its walls, I perceived decay had made progress,
even in seven months: many a window
showed black gaps deprived of glass; and slates
jutted off here and there, beyond the right line
of the roof, to be gradually worked off
in coming autumn storms.’ From one of the branches
of the tree metal feeders hang with seeds.
The birds are profligate in their habits.
Wild grasses are beginning to sprout beneath.
‘I sought, and soon discovered, the three headstones
on the slope next the moor: the middle one grey
and half buried in the heath; Edgar Linton’s
only harmonized by the turf and moss
creeping up its foot; Heathcliff ’s still bare.’
Two peacock butterflies have lighted
on the reader’s thick head of grey hair.
He is unaware of the nomads, which perhaps
have wintered in the tree. They flitter off.
All the cities of Eurasia are theirs.
‘I lingered round them, under that benign sky:
watched the moths fluttering among the heath
and harebells, listened to the soft wind breathing
through the grass, and wondered how any one
could ever imagine unquiet slumbers
for the sleepers in that quiet earth.’ A blackbird
begins to sing at the top of the tree.
The old reader thinks of a walled garden
in Konigsburg or Venice; and the sun
through the leaded lights of austere libraries,
where bird song is imagined and adored;
and symphonies of tongues applauded quietly.
Blossom falls from the tree onto the page.
He closes the book cautiously, mating
the black finality of the ink
with the petal’s white flesh.