Affair of Kites
I sit, astonished by the pink kite:
its scoop and plunge, the briefness of it;
an escaped blouse, a pocket of silk
thumping like a heart
tight above the shimmering hill.
The sheer snap and plummet
sculpting the air's curve, the sky's chambers.
An affair with the wind's body;
a feeling for steps in the rising air, a love
sustained only by the high currents
and the hopeless gesture of the heart's hand.
The kitemaster has gone, invisible
over the hard horizon;
wind walks the grass between us.
I see the falling,
days later feel the crash.
Over the last six months, Robin Robertson has moved pretty high up on my list of contemporary poets to watch. First alerted to his poetry by poems that appeared in the New Yorker and the New York Review of Books, I've since read both of his collections, A Painted Field and Slow Air (I liked Painted Field much better) and am looking forward to his third book, Swithering, which came out this month.
At his best, Robertson combines the lyrical accuracy of Heaney, with a violence that reminds me of Lowell, and a bloodthirsty-ness that does credit to his Scottish ancestors. He is a fine, fascinating poet, who this poem, picked to show off his more whimsical side, does not do full justice to (though it's a lovely poem for all that). Read him.