Week 312: Which Of Us Two, by Peter Viereck

When I came across this poem by the American poet Peter Viereck (1918-2006) it struck me as such a powerful, intimate statement of grief that I immediately went looking for more by the same poet, but, as sometimes happens, could find plenty of verbal pyrotechnics but nothing that seemed to match this one for feeling. Still, as I’ve said before, one breakthrough poem is more than most of us manage.

Which Of Us Two

When both are strong with tenderness, too wild
With oneness to be severance-reconciled;
When even the touch of fingertips can shock
Both to such seesaw mutuality
Of hot-pressed opposites as smelts a tree
Tighter to its dryad than to its own tight bark;
When neither jokes or mopes or hates alone
Or wakes untangled from the others; when
More-warm-than-soul, more-deep-than-flesh are one
In marriage of the very skeleton, –

When, then, soil peels more flesh off half this love
And locks it from the unstripped half above,
Who’s ever sure which side of soil he’s on?
Have I lain seconds here, or years like this?
I’m sure of nothing else but loneliness
And darkness. Here’s such black as stuffs a tomb,
Or merely midnight in an unshared room.
Holding my breath for fear my breath is gone,
Unmoving and afraid to try to move,
Knowing only you have somehow left my side.
I lie here, wondering which of us has died.

Peter Viereck

Advertisements

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s