Alastair Reid

Image by Alastair Reid



I am old enough now for a tree
once planted, knee high, to have grown to be
twenty times me,

and to have seen babies marry, and heroes grow deaf -
but that's enough meaning-of-life.
It's living through time we ought to be connoisseurs of.

From wearing a face all this time, I am made aware
of the maps faces are, of the inside wear and tear.
I take to faces that have come far.

In my father's carved face, the bright eye
he sometimes would look out of, seeing a long way
through all the tree-rings of his history.

I am awed by how things weather: an oak mantel
in the house in Spain, fingered to a sheen,
the marks of hands leaned into the lintel,

the tokens in the drawer I sometimes touch -
a crystal lived-in on a trip, the watch
my father's wrist wore to a thin gold sandwich.

It is an equilibrium
that breasts the cresting seasons but still stays calm
and keeps warm. It deserves a good name.

Weathering. Patina, gloss, and whorl.
The trunk of the almond tree, gnarled but still fruitful.
Weathering is what I would like to do well.

from Inside Out: Selected Poetry and Translations (Polygon, 2008), © Alastair Reid 1978, 2008 used by permission of the author.


Alastair Reid

Alastair Reid Reading from his Poems

1A Lesson in Music


3Where Truth Lies

4Growing, Flying, Happening


6Once in Piertarvit

7Whithorn Manse


9Speaking a Foreign Language

10The Rain in Spain

11The Figures on the Frieze

12In Such a Poise is Love


14An Instance

15Outlook Uncertain


17James Bottle's Year

18The O-Filler


20Directions for a Map

21The Academy

22The Spiral


24My Father Dying


Books by Alastair Reid