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Higher Ground by Robert Hilles

Higher Ground by Robert HillesHigher Ground by Robert Hilles,  published in 2001 by River Books, contains a number of love poems including “Beloved.”

Beloved

It drizzles all day in Sooke.
By the window of our new house
I watch the sea take back the rain
Your hand on my neck rubs through pain.
Last night I turned to you in sleep
And you warmed all the places night chilled
Rain drummed the roof and our empty house murmured.

Today, waves crest rocks and my thoughts
Follow your fingers as they travel
Winter stays frozen to the peaks of the mountains
Across the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
I worry that I can describe the ocean but not your face.
Beloved, your eyes wear the blues and greens of spring.
You heat muffins in the oven and walk between empty rooms
Planning a future my heart races toward.

Yesterday a seal poked its face out of pale water.
We walked to the edge of the rocks seeking its animal attention
Patient as the sea, it bobbed for an unusually long time
And watched us with moist steady eyes.
Today I scan the ocean for that seal but the water reigns alone.

My thoughts shift from the sea to the tip of your tongue pausing between whispers
My ears shut out all but the sounds of us coming home.
I trace a line along the uneven surface of the strait out into the channel
Where a lone freighter snails toward the open sea.
From our house it looks small and insignificant just as we must to anyone on board looking back
I let this love slip tighter into me.
I turn away from the sea and kiss you once
As the empty house settles more firmly into place.

Listen to an audio version of “Beloved,” read by Bob Chelmick of CKUA radio.

Short URL: http://www.bookclubbuddy.com/?p=1349

Posted by Pearl on Oct 22 2010. Filed under Poetry. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry
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12 Comments for “Higher Ground by Robert Hilles”

  1. Thank you all for your entries. What a wonderful idea it was to have people comment, and it has given me great pleasure to read each one. This was a difficult choice, but I have decided to give the books to John because his response most captured the essence of what I felt as I wrote the poem.

    However, I liked Caroline’s response so much that I am sending her a copy, as well. Her response moved me because she connected to the poem in a way that I hoped people would, in that it triggered her own feelings for her beloved and caused her to want to share the poem. Happy Anniversary!

    Robert

  2. This contest is now closed. Thank you all for your thoughtful responses. I have asked Robert to choose a winner, and he will be posting that shortly. The winner will then receive an email from me asking for mailing instructions.

  3. This poem was probably the most calming thing I have ever read. The gentle use of language by Mr. Hilles is phenomenal. He sets the mood and tone with elegance–unlike the rocky, choppy diction of other poets. It makes me excited for my future and my own personal beloved so that I can be just as inspired.

  4. The phrase “I worry that I can describe the ocean but not your face” makes it feel to me that it was a whirlwind courtship, getting married on the spur of the moment. Newlyweds. Wondering if he made the right decision at times but getting used to her being in his place.

  5. Robert, you have created beautiful imagery that pulls at the emotions like the sea.

    Lines that especially tigged at my heart:
    “I watch the sea take back the rain”
    “And you warmed all the places night chilled”
    “I let this love slip tighter into me.”

    I listened to the audio and wished that a lover was reading it to me while I swung in a hammock and let the leaves flicker the light across my face.

    Pearl is so fortunate to be loved by a poet.

  6. Today, July 1, 2011, is our 25th anniversary of the date we pledged faithful and enduring love, my beloved and I. So I read this poem with special care this morning, hearing the same sea outside, contemplating the tides that ebb and surge inside, accepting the uncertainties (empty rooms), frailties (aches, pains, healing touch) and how steady hearts bond with each other.
    I will email this lovely and loving poem to my own beloved. Thank you.

  7. My interpretation of the poem is how a woman’s love brings him back from somewhere, whether a life at sea, mental depression, but something that draws his attention away from her (if depressed, his inattention). They have moved to a new house, a new beginning for them. It’s empty of being lived in, except for the patience and loving gestures of a willing partner.

    “I worry that I can describe the ocean but not your face.” He has perhaps brought her here to his favourite landscape. But she is newer to him than his experiences and happily planning, perhaps unaware that he is transitioning.

    In the last verse the overwhelming pull of the sea slips anchor. He stops obsessing about his choices. “I let this love slip tighter into me.” He stops warring within himself. She has won him over, her presence in his world more acceptable, more beloved.

  8. Robert has captured the contrast of two emotional pulls – the sea and his lover. He shows us how he loves them both in their different ways. And finally there is no competition – one love becomes the expression of the other — one love reinforces the other. And isn’t this just how we fall and keep in love?

    Within this love story, there are some magical lines for me:

    “I watch the sea take back the rain”

    “waves crest rocks and my thoughts
    Follow your fingers as they travel”

    “My thoughts shift from the sea to the tip of your tongue pausing between whispers”

    “a lone freighter snails toward the open sea.”

    and my favourite

    “I let this love slip tighter into me”

  9. Such a mastery of words. The random thoughts of someone in love – I could see what I was reading.

  10. Sometimes the beloved one is a stand in for the Beloved. Feels so in this poem. Nice

  11. I don’t think I’ve ever read a *bad* poem by Robert Hilles – his language strokes along my nerve endings and teases my imagination in all the best ways.

    “Last night I turned to you in sleep / And you warmed all the places night chilled” and “Planning a future my heart races toward” are phrases that just make me giddy in their perfection.

  12. [...] a poem from Higher Ground. This is featured on BookClubBuddy as well as a short [...]

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