Poems for Hazel was written over a period of five and a half years, certainly among the most intensely felt of my life. I think I have to give some biographical information to make clear what otherwise may be obscure references.
Hazel is a widow (hence no.’s 12, 15 & 16), her husband and father of her children died in hospital of cancer long before I ever met her. She was very reluctant to get involved with me, (and who can blame her?), it took two or three years from our first meeting, (hence 'orbit') whereupon I promptly went to Birmingham to do a Ph.D. (hence no.’s 5, 7, 9, 13, 'half', 'other half', etc.).
We had a 'stormy', 'passionate' relationship (hence everything, especially the titled poems making up part two) the ending of which (though I have to acknowledge it could not have continued) causes me profound regret. We seemed to split up every couple of months, which was always the end of the world, but had many happy, exciting, wonderful times as well. If there is a concentration on the misery of things in the poems, I fear, which is because when I was with her and we were happy there was neither any need to write anything, nor any time to do so. She is still my friend. I still love her. I hate her too.
Nothing's changed there, then.
Between sections two and three I had a car crash and fractured my spine (hence (a), and see Medical Notes and Hospital Poems) rendering me useless: unable to walk without sticks – even to sit – impotent, and dependent on others for simple things like shopping. There was never any thought in my mind that Hazel should have been made to nurse and look after me, a notion utterly unjust and impractical. She herself must (I know) have suffered intensely from my condition, which, in a sense, has proved me unworthy of her: I am reckless. To visit me in hospital must have been too reminiscent of visiting her lost husband. I felt so sorry for her (and myself!) and so guilty. It must have seemed that she was cursed, condemned to endless repetition.
I am making a gradual recovery from my broken back and broken heart. I hope Hazel cannot be identified from the details I have given, she is a respectable, professional and private woman, apart from her equally important secret life as the sexiest, most playful and passionate of beings.
I offer this to Hazel and to the world with some trepidation.
I would like to arrange it
- and feel it would please you -
that I should be one of the manifold pleasures
which life can afford you
and are yours to call upon
brought to your door
by the pull of your tide.
I too must subsist
in the world of desires and of mundane profanities
I need a life which supports such a luxury -
my life is ragged with glittering holes.