This poem was inspired by the hillside cemetery named above that I walked through during four years every afternoon in all sorts of weather. The wildlife mentioned was seen over this period and it all came together quickly in the poem which was several drafts written in an hour. The undercurrents of this is coming to terms with death. Yeats said the two most important themes for a poet to write about are sex and death and I have tried to follow the great poet’s advice. I try to delve into the dark and, hopefully, come up with light, hence the goldfinch as the concluding image. I wrote the poem in first person to translate the intensity I was feeling when I set about to write the first draft, then switched to third to distance myself from it and achieve the objective artistry I aspire to–I mean I am trying to make something–like a good table with beautiful wood.
Each dawn he walks where sleepers never waken
And when he sees a fox like a streak of flame
Flashing across the grass oblivious to
The gravestones or a file of turkeys strutting
Through a doorway of leaves or a raccoon
Waddling like an old man with heavy pockets,
The dread of death he carries like a tarnished coin
Vanishes as a goldfinch rises toward the sky.