Let us return to a night that we were loath to leave.
The moment: when there were still fireflies in the field,
before the field of heaven was flittered with shooting stars.
Come, pass to this chamber of our memory.
The doorway is small but the room has no walls –
the door opens on a night of crickets and barking from four fields away.
Here is what the Earth smells like
away from the brooding staleness of the city.
Come, there is dancing in every field all around.
You cannot look ahead or behind or to any side
without observing tiny lights passing and parting.
Let the scene sink a sweet zinging hook into your chest
and pull you
out, out and away:
here is delirium that is not the companion of illness.
Drink it in, child of earth,
drink of it, queen of the Earth.
Every firefly will do you obeisance
and you will not catch one
you will stumble on the clods of your earth
and when you fall you will forget that it hurt.
They’ve spotted the first ten meteors or so
and here is this picnic table.
Don’t think of peeling paint or dust
or crusted remains of picnics past:
think not at all.
For a night, my queen, my soul,
be she who senses and who feels
not she who calculates.
Lie on this table
and let the sky be again your only husband.
Thus you first knew the anguish of sweetness, and this will never be
not a phase of you yourself.
Now the dances of the earthborn have passed,
and the dances of the heavenborn;
it is early morning and
you are weary with joy and longing unfulfilled –
a real husband would be nice, you think,
someone to tell your deepest secrets to:
(do you recall such naivety?
what did you think a husband was that you imbued
one ideal ephemeral form
with every human virtue?)
It is good to enter a room of memory
in the house of your past.
Do not forget that when you took to yourself
beauty, hard and fierce and blinding,
you were arrogant and racked with joy
and you knew then what you have almost forgotten now.
There were people there and these are shadows moving
in the darkened room
without faces or voices;
you recall them in
their leaning toward yourself
and that is all the face and voice you gave them,
and some of them danced with you.
It is almost the same memory as that other:
in a crib
in a soft sweetsmelling room.
The lights go out;
your mother and your father,
bereft of their frightening insistence
and unintelligible conversations,
speak softly by your side
with warmth and condescension till you understand:
“We love you, and that will never change.”
Oh, life was sweet and awful then.