The NS Poem: In Two Minds

A new poem by Clive James.

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A change of aspect. Out in the garden now
The pools of rain take extra territory
And keep it. Winter will come again:
The rain-soaked sunlight strives to slow it down
But can’t for long.
Such glittering prospects are still grim for me

Save when I long to leave, but in that lies
The paradox. Oblivion ought not
To look so good, a parent shaking toys
Above the cot’s rail to extract a smile
Of wild delight.
At this rate, what with so much shining warmth,

Just add a few birds and spring would be here
Again. Remember it? Who can forget
All that renewal in so little time?
Perhaps now it will never stop, the slide
To nothingness.
Isn’t it something, though? So cool, so clean:

The way the flagstones, gleaming from the drench,
Reflect a light that could be from the sun,
Granted the sun were visible. Low clouds
Wrap up where the blaze burns. The way the world
Will look without you
Is in the showroom now, dressed to the nines,

And I am in two minds: all set to go,
Mad keen to stay. The second, I fear, still
Outweighs the first. Today I signed the form

That says I want no tube stuck down my throat
Should I need that to keep on drawing breath:
But what if I
Can still look out and see the shining rain?

Clive James is an Australian author, critic, broadcaster and poet, best known for his autobiographical series Unreliable Memoirs, his chat shows on British television and his prolific journalism. He has submitted several original poems for the New Statesman

This article first appeared in the 25 August 2018 issue of the New Statesman, Will Labour split?