At Polixeni’s burial


Polixeni, how sweet was the time when we met
when the course of our future together was set,
when a long-lasting smile of agreeable fashion
predicted the length of our marriage and passion!
How sweet were the days when we talked of our feeling
to share the affecting, the grand and appealing;
how sweet were the hours when we talked about art
and the language of pictures that speaks to the heart;
how delightful was all of the time that we spent
in interpreting beauty and all that it meant;
and how sweet were the moments with coffee at home
with its delicate savour and crema and foam!
or the times when our cup in the morning recalled
conversations where both of us sat there enthralled
as if tasting the coffee in Athens or Rome
that had lingered and brewed itself freshly at home.
How superb were those magical moments abroad
deconstructing the artworks that experts applaud
with our intimate ownership, making them ours
for a time that transcended our limited hours!
How absorbing those moments! How lucid and sweet
to meander and relish the life of the street!
And then sweeter again, Polixeni, how sweet
were our babies who fed from your love and your teat,
those adorable children who clung to our flank
and for whom we have holiest fortune to thank.
They have come with a narrative, filling us both
with their endless description of vigorous growth;
they would come with us, going wherever we went.
How incredibly sweet was the time that we spent
going out as a foursome to seek a location
for making a new photographic creation!
How fine were the lunches, the dinners and shopping
and sundry attractions that merited stopping!
How sweet were the studio viewing and thought
as you pored over all that the camera had wrought
and discussed with analysis what you were seeking
in pictures predestined for acting and speaking!
How sweet was the time with our parents, all four
who adored you and couldn’t love anyone more;
and how sweet was the time that we spent with your friends
in the morning mid-week or on gentle weekends!
Polixeni, this sweetness I cherish and store
and would strew on your tomb that I love and abhor.
As the clod is distributed over your brow
Polixeni, how bitter, how bitter is now!

Robert Nelson