To Aeronwy Thomas
I remember that day a year before you died
when Dan announced to the St Paul's coffee-group
that you, Aeronwy Thomas,
daughter of my all-time-favourite poet,
would be reading that night at the Grolier.
I didn't go. I had some weak excuse:
didn't want to leave my apartment,
didn't want to travel in the dark.
Perhaps I was afraid—
afraid of how I'd react to seeing in person
Dylan Thomas’s daughter!
I might have burst into tears,
into nervous explosions of words,
blubbering and gushing praises
to your late father.
He wasn't just a poet to me.
He wasn't the down-to-earth Seamus Heaney
signing my copy of Field Work, and being indulgent
toward my teenage exuberance.
He wasn't John Ashbery, delightfully bickering
with James Merrill about the double sestina
in that legendary odd-couple of a reading
at Mount Holyoke.
Dylan Thomas taught me my own language.
He was a working-class lad from the provinces:
a young dog roaring like a druid lion,
a verbal Merlin on a pagan sabbath
glorying the grass, brooks, nooks, dales, vales,
the oceans above, alive and bright with stars—
hymnographer of a war-torn century,
voice of a curly cardigan'd seraph
thundering peace to the coal-black veins of the earth.
I put your name, Aeronwy Thomas,
through the YouTube search engine,
and found you reading your own poems
from a book called Later than Laugharne.
When I heard your first few words—
telling us your name—
I started weeping.
Your father's poetry
thrilled my otherwise ordinary adolescence
among triple-deckers and fire-hydrants,
amid MTV and Brat Pack films and America.
I learned by heart his psalms to the estuary
stretching beneath the Boat House,
his hymns to the cormorant, to
herons and shells
that speak seven seas
eternal waters away
from the cities of nine days' night ...
Your father in the flesh
was my father in the art.
Poetry by Thomas DeFreitas
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Written on 2018-01-28 at 14:35
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