The Way It Wasn’t

The where,
the why,
no one cares
for but I –

the road
we crossed
decades ago
when we were lost
extravagant trees
and their hospitable branches
abandoned houses
that gaped at us happily
sun-shafts that made a monastery
of every overgrown lawn –

these are memories;
these are worlds.

The lone,
the lost,
the gone,
the row of lettuce
that shall not come again
I hoed it once
a drop of my sweat
fell there –

If I forget,
will God remember?

Now let me sing of a moth
that died
pale wings
falling against the wishes of the wind,

So it snowed
on a humid summer lake:
there fell a single, white,
light, shingled flake.

I terrified myself:
I thought of diving in.
A sodden moth wing would
cling to my face,
his broken antenna
would be lost in my hair,
and a small, solid, curlicue body
would sink slowly,
skimming my bare belly,
sink slowly down.

which made the lake so black,
so heavy, so sorcerous –
I might listen to his serenade
from lighted balconies, but never touch.

Currents in me,
and currents in the lake,
and what if they should meet?

Such musing
woken by your face
when you turned to me
along the road with a smile,
lit by streetlight,
and a compliment –
well, I was holy then.

What if we had met by the shore?
How would your face,
turned to me
under savage moonlight,
before blackened shores,
have looked?

Oh, not-lover of so long ago,
do not come again –
I am old and sad.

What if there were three,
pulling, tossing, slapping?
The lake, and you, and me?
What if a moth had died
to fall, a soft corsage
half rising with every breath
from the liquid rim encircling

And if you had been miraculously chaste,
so that I had nothing to fear
and I had been miraculously un-chaste
so that you had nothing to fear?

And if you and the lake
had vied to hold me up?
What if I had been buoyed
for even a moment
in wild, dark bliss,
and never knew who caught me,
of the two of you?

What if no monsters were writhing and rising
from under black, sorcerous, waves?

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