This Dead Letter

by Malcolm Lowry

Malcolm Lowry

When I am in the purgatory of the unread,
Of the backward, of those with wandering attention,
What survives must go back to Pier Head
To mingle with the bereaved, with those who weep
As freighters bear their hearts out with the tide.
It will not be a spirit worthy of mention,
Not one to recommend the down-and-out sailor:
Nor will it be a ghost to help my father
Struggling in the gale with his poor newspaper
. Or flying behind his bowler hat to work,
As once before to race his new school cap.
I shall not be looking for anyone to help;
The salt grey prop looks after itself.
I shall not stir a metaphor in a poet's head
Grown greyer than my book on his top shelf:
I spoke too much of wounds that never mend,
Of ships sailing in rain that never come back.
Still I shall watch them sail, but turn my back
To Saigon, the equator or Port Said.
I lived with sadness: I shall be stern
As this dead letter, I shall never send.

Last updated September 29, 2022