6/9/21 Workshop – A Poem by Thom Gunn

In Trust by Thom Gunn

You go from me

In June for months on end

To study equanimity

Among high trees alone;

I go out with a new boyfriend

And stay all summer in the city where

Home mostly on my own

I watch the sunflowers flare.


You travel East

To help your relatives.

The rainy season’s start, at least,

Brings you from banishment:

And from the hall a doorway gives

A glimpse of you, writing I don’t know what,

Through winter, with head bent

In the lamp’s yellow spot.


To some fresh task

Some improvising skill

Your face is turned, of which I ask

Nothing except the presence:

Beneath white hair your clear eyes still

Are candid as the cat’s fixed narrowing gaze

—Its pale-blue incandescence

In your room nowadays.


Sociable cat:

Without much noise or fuss

We left the kitchen where he sat,

And suddenly we find

He happens still to be with us,

In this room now, though firmly faced away,

Not to be left behind,

Though all the night he’ll stray.


As you began

You’ll end the year with me.

We’ll hug each other while we can,

Work or stray while we must.

Nothing is, or will ever be,

Mine, I suppose. No one can hold a heart,

But what we hold in trust

We do hold, even apart.


Reflective writing prompt: Write about something held in trust

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