Carol Ann Duffy

Clerk of Hearts

As they step from the path onto the boats,
I am there at my place under the trees,
listing the Categories. Humility. Shame.

My dealings with life have been so long ago,
I imagine I resemble shadow or watermark.
I am unanswered prayer, like poetry. Dread.

Whatever I did — it might have been that — now,
I watch each one depart, perceive their hearts;
old diaries I read at a glance. Acceptance. Disdain.

They will forget, but I take Time, devoted,
clerk of hearts. Sometimes I stand on the bridge
as they drift away, being more and more dead…

a kingfisher arrowing upriver, joy as colour;
then thunder above, a boiling of last words,
and their crafts vanishing into the heavy rain.