This poem was my answer to the opening question, posed in a letter. The husband went along his way, but I got this poem in exchange; time has shown that to be a fair trade, like the lost plums.
Reply by Return of Post
What do you do there all day?
I drink my milky morning coffee
With two eagles banking through the mist,
Other fingers cupped around a palmful
Of rolled oats for the hooded crows.
I follow the snow-tracks of four pheasant
Who startle the finches, who spook the jays,
Who scare everything else in the woods
Into joining their pissed-off serenade.
I read MacNeice in the kitchen and rise breathless,
Imagine that I can see his gray-green land across the sound
And not the jumbled rainbow of Tobermory
Laughing in the momentary sunshine.
I watch my husband in his workshop
Smoothing an oak board with a hira ganna
Stripped to the waist, bearing down,
Shoulders glistening under the pale winter sun.
I meet with the bullfinches in the orchard
And agree to a trade: My future Shropshire plums
And autumn cherries, for their summer breasts
And winter piping in the apple branches.
I walk to the post office in the rain.