Tuesday Poem: Lovers’ Quarrel by Michael Harlow

Something about how we live through
so many betrayals only to discover our
own, you said – trying to stay alive inside
the alphabet, and meet up with old friends

We were walking out of the park, your
hair on fire under a full fall of moon;
the flowering almond its bridal white
fading earlier than we remembered

I could hear, a leaf-fall of thought, one
of those moments when little is said
and always it’s meant to mean more
And you know words don’t do well

in loneliness; they don’t like to dwell
in the solitude of themselves. And who
can blame them? I said, thinking that here
we were again inside a lovers’ quarrel

in a place we called the world. Just then
I was in mind of the six chairs missing,
the one remaining, the last of the family:
its slat-back broken, the seat eating air

along in the garden with the stone Buddha
under a cloak of ivy. And I remembered
the map-makers secret wish that finally
the one map arrives, the four gates to the

future drawn to perfection. It’s here you
say we find ourselves best by being lost
And that trying to climb into heaven
on your own will never do. Those tall dark

poplars, daughters of that wily old sun
god, we may need to keep in more than
mind. Such leaf music we hear the voices
of anyone’s unborn children. I can see
there is a tenderness to attend to, and now.

From The Tram Conductor’s Blue Cap (pages 3-4) by Michael Harlow
Published by Auckland University Press
Used with the permission of Auckland University Press
This poem has been posted as part of the Tuesday Poem scheme


3 thoughts on “Tuesday Poem: Lovers’ Quarrel by Michael Harlow

  1. There is a lot of falling in this poem – leaves, moonlight, thoughts, from light (moon) to darkness (poplars), perhaps even from innocence to knowledge? … The ‘ll’ sounds help this along, and make the poem lilting, thoughtful, tender … And there’s more here I need to explore about words and language, about what they can and can’t say. Thanks Emma for this one!

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