This is an old man’s poem: short and bitter-sweet, but nourishing. I came to it in Jim Cotter’s Etched in Silence collection, Canterbury Press, 2013, which Cotter presents as a pilgrimage through R.S. Thomas’s poems, one for each week of the year. This is allocated to week 45, this second week in November.
I look out over the timeless sea over the head of one, calendar to time’s passing, who is now open at the last month, her hair wintry. Am I catalyst of her mettle that, at my approach, her grimace of pain turns to a smile? What it is saying is: “Over love’s depths only the surface is wrinkled."
R.S. Thomas, ‘I look out over the timeless sea’, in Collected later poems, 1988-2000, Bloodaxe Books 2004 p72