‘Twas night when Marcel Proust brought back our cat
Half killed by marmots up in Val Suvretta,
Though she had died of grief three months before.
He stood, black in the door, and said, ‘She’ll do,
I’m used to cats,’ and then I saw the splints,
The scrupulous intricacy of splints,
And knew ’twas Proust and said, ‘Then it’s not true
What I had thought – that one could never meet you.
There was a reason. I’ve forgotten what.’
He came and sat beside the fire and talked.
I saw our room was all reversed –
Left side was right as in a looking-glass;
And after that our ears held all our life
To listen with until he said, ‘I’ll go.
There is a reason why ’twas strange to come
And hard to stay till now, and now impossible.’
This morning, yet surely
In my brain
Is not alone,
Because the sun is risen again,
Or its light thrown
So brightly back from the roofs.
‘Tis something more –
Let me think –
Something seen or heard;
It rests with me, but strained of every word,
Except those few at the door,
Strained of whole thoughts,
Strained of pictures even,
Filtered through so many layers of sleep.
A blackness almost in the abstract,
Shadowiness, perhaps, or emaciation.
In me this strenuousness,
This intellectual elation,
Remains from Marcel Proust.