He Turns to His Wife, 1797
You turn away from me in the fragrant heat
Of this Montenotte summer –
You are besieged with the bustle of parenthood,
More fatally besieged than I could ever be.
I watch the children cling to your waking hours,
Clinging as if their lives depended on you
For clean air, apples, for Olympian favours.
I am neither nurse nor mother, but distant
With the precise tables of a marine clerk;
I am the scrivener, merely, of their triumphs –
Miss Callanan, I kiss the laurels on your shoulder
As you drowse beside me; you grown warm
With the radiant sandstone of August.
Your whippet lies lazy beside us, his black
Muzzle moist with dreams, your worn trug
Full of redcurrants overturned.
The heat of the city rises to our land
To sit upon your head like a crown.
Peace in our land, a peaceable Kingdom,
An English century seems peaceably to wind down
After the storms of regicide.
Ships out of France begin to trade once more,
The New World prospers.
A Murphy coaster skims the tide.
Ships like children attend to you,
Forever seeking you on the far shore –
Minerva in the summer’s medallion,
Perfectly at ease after Mercury’s wars.