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Patagonia by Kate Clanchy

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I feel a mixture of sadness and happiness, for reasons I cannot quite explain. There is that heavy feeling I can’t name, sitting quietly inside my chest. I have said to myself, the other night, how I could’ve been so happy except that a certain sense of wistfulness overcomes everything. And then before I could identify what is that something amiss, it has already passed me by. I am left without the ability to speak, so. Instead, here, a poem in my hands.

Kate Clanchy

I said perhaps Patagonia, and pictured
a peninsula, wide enough
for a couple of ladderback chairs
to wobble on at high tide. I thought

of us in breathless cold, facing
a horizon round as a coin, looped
in a cat’s cradle strung by gulls
from sea to sun. I planned to wait

till the waves had bored themselves
to sleep, till the last clinging barnacles,
growing worried in the hush, had
paddled off in tiny coracles, till

those restless birds, your actor’s hands,
had dropped slack into your lap,
until you’d turned, at last, to me.
When I spoke of Patagonia, I meant

skies all empty aching blue. I meant
years. I meant all of them with you.

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