Ahrend Torrey

Twyckenham Notes
Issue Fifteen
Spring 2022

Reading Larkin’s Aubade, Well Before Sunup

Well before sunup, I leave our room, 
and hear the gurgle of the maker 
calling me to the ready pot. 
I pour a cup and nestle on the couch 
readings Larkin’s Aubade. He writes: 
“Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare. 
In time the curtain-edges will grow light. 
Till then I see what’s really always there: 
unresting death, a whole day nearer now, 
making all thought impossible but how 
and where and when I shall myself die.” 
And I continue to lines 
“…this is what we fear—no sight, 
no sound, no touch or taste or smell, 
nothing to think with, 
nothing to love or link with…” then 
suddenly I throw-off my blanket, lift-off 
the couch, push the bedroom door 
and tap my mug to the nightstand—
in bed my husband’s hugged to a pillow—
I slip under the comforter, tangle 
my legs with his legs, press my chest 
against his chest, and hold him, abandoning 
anything else that concerns the day—
we sleep, until I wake to Larkin’s words 
back at play—:
“Slowly light strengthens, 
and the room takes shape.” …

Was it the Pentas?

"It is a secret of the world that all things subsist and do not die, 
but only retire a little from sight and afterwards return…"
					—Ralph Waldo Emerson
Three pentas we bought, J. and I, and I planted them, 
all three in a brown plastic barrel pot, and let it to the back patio 

where they bushed into the most abundant pink, red, and leaves. 
This is the plant I knew would attract the monarchs, this is the plant 

that would give them, if anything, more time. Like crescendo 
without an orchestra, the pentas peaked, and each day 

declined, declined, declined, which I did not fully understand until 
they declined so much I could see through their half-eaten leaves  

a dozen thick brown-green hornworms. I could’ve picked them off,
but something told me: let them stay. 

All over the patio the hornworms carried the rich pentas 
in their tight stomachs, and disappeared …into the ground?

Late spring came to the fence one evening, and I saw the teresa sphinx 
moths —Or wait, was it the pentas? — advancing the honeysuckles. 

This I asked, and still ask.

Driving Home, After Hurricane Ida

The closer I get to NOLA 
the more that’s trashed: Road signs 
stripped from their poles. Billboards
tattered and torn and left to hang. Roofs 
crushed, or their under-boards 
exposed. Many homes sour
now after the flood. 

Passing the wetlands, eastbound, on I-10, 
I spot a wind-cracked cypress 
fallen in the shallows. 

A wedge of egrets congregate
like ancient clouds in its branches: 

Some gently flap their wide wings.
Others beak their airy plumes. 

All their white bodies shimmer
and shimmer—

something strangely beautiful—
off the dark water.

New Orleans Botanical Garden

Everyone’s admiring the Fiddle-leaf Plumeria;
      the Bougainvillea, waving its body of pink leaves;
          the blue Morning Glories,
              gripped to the trellis. 

Everyone’s admiring the Victoria Water Lilly,
      holding its white star; the large Staghorn Fern;
          the Dancing Girl Ginger.

And what’s most admirable, is all the admiring—:
      each person leaned into a plant, whispering 
          behind their eyes—
              I love you. I love you.

AHREND TORREY enjoys exploring nature in southern Louisiana where he lives with his husband Jonathan, their two rat terriers Dichter and Dova, and Purl their cat. He earned his MA and MFA in creative writing from Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and is the author of “Small Blue Harbor” published by the Poetry Box Select imprint (Portland) in 2019. His work has been published in The Westchester ReviewThe Perch (a journal of the Yale Program for Recovery and Community Health, a program of the Yale School of Medicine) and the Greensboro Review, among others. He is also a recipient of the Etruscan Prize awarded by Etruscan Press. His poetic influences include Anne Sexton, Etheridge Knight, Jack Gilbert, James Wright, Jane Kenyon, Jim Harrison, Langston Hughes, Li-Young Lee, Mary Oliver, and Walt Whitman.

Cover image by Adrian Huth.
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