For Patricia Kathleen
I would have liked to write you a poem
simple and beautiful as the ones your mother
used to read to you, or sometimes recite
over the breakfast table:
“Rose Aylmer” or one of the Lucy poems.
Back when I first knew you,
when we were both young,
I might have managed quatrains, ballad meter.
I might have managed simple beauty.
After seventy years or so,
give or take a few days,
there are too many memories
to pack into tidy quatrains.
You had acquired more identities,
and so perhaps had I,
after all these years,
though I like to think
some essential self remained
for each of us,
something young and striving