A La Recherche
I know that time has passed. My hair
is faded, and the drawers are crammed
with old letters. The evening air
is perfumed by other gardens, and
I sit and swipe half-heartedly
at Dickinson’s persistent fly.
When I was no taller than this sea
of flowers, there was a green sky
above a rainbow-spattered view;
it was a town of flowers. That truth
now the field is underfoot
is gone with the girl I was and her youth.
Yet though the woods have grown back through
the cast-off harrow, and a tree
now drives the wagon, stone walls hew
these woods to fields of former years.
A vanished glacier plucked the front
from hills and drew the valley’s face.
It is here and not here. Hunt
for it; it is in a special place.
The past and the future are borne in the hour;
those who know when they will die
just have less future in them – for
you can’t step in the same high
water twice, but you can again.
When my arms are full of light,
I can feel instead a warm, round hen,
sleek silky feathers stuffed with life,
with beating and clucking, this ball of meat
bursting with life and eggs. My fingers
in the sun are full of a neat
brown piece of pretty life that lingers,
having perished these fifty years.
(They say the science of the soul
is the new faith; what drives our tears
is never lost, just cubbyholed.
The fallacy was to determine
what should be recalled at last;
the weather of trends secures their preferment.)
Now a dark horse canters past
the flower’s tropism, in and out
of seasons, under bare branches bathed
in rosy light and hung about
with tinkling crystals, through a swathe
fragrant with hay, the footfalls soft
upon fields of childhood’s vanished farm
and down the broad green valley of far-off
school days, clattering over the charmed
pavements of towering cities, a babble
of tongues on the air, whispering like wind.
There falls a stillness after the rabble
of clamorous scenes and stories, skin
cooled as the gravel road underfoot
rises, dips and winds among
the heavy-shouldered boulders, brutes
asleep on the floor of the forest, flung
by the genius of the ice, playing
a game of statues. The soft mane
brushes the backs of my hands, swaying
in cadence with hoof beats' measured refrain,
pounding out numbers, blood keeping time,
its song in my ears as the light fades;
the rider aware alone of the ride
gallops on among the gathering shades.