Denise Levertov


I am growing mine
though I have regretted yours.

        She says, ‘Sure I saw him: he wanted
        to run, the Guardia Civil
        shot him before he reached the patio wall.
        Do I understand “subversive”? Yes,
        the word means
        people who know their rights,
        if they work but don’t get enough to eat
        they protest. He was
        a lay preacher, my father,
        he preached the Gospel,
        he was subversive.’

        She is 12.

My shell is growing
nicely, not very hard, just
a thin protection but it’s
better than just skin. Have you
completed yours? It seems
there will be chinks in it though,
the cartilaginous
plates don’t quite meet, do yours?

        A 9 year old boy whose father has ‘disappeared’ 
                                                        three weeks now,
asked how he feels, says
with the shrug of a man of sixty,
‘sad.’ He nods. ‘Yes; sad . . . ’
That burning, blistering glare
off the world’s desert
still pushes in; oh, filter it, grow faster,
hide me in shadow,
         my carapace!