Daphne

I
Of yourself and your beginnings,
these scattered images
say what you are
and what you may become.

Morning and Spring come again
to the island where you live,
always Daphne. Soul of the wind,

there are vines at your throat,
your ear thinned to a shell
that listens to water and the voice
of a sea bird crying in the fog.
II
I know three women that are you:

One keeps track of the silver
in a box of drawers, she loves
the glitter and the falling sound.

Another climbs all day the rooms
in a vacant house: she rocks
at night before a fire, reads
from a large red book, withheld
and alone.
And the third
calls music from a heart of wood.
III
You rise from your sleep
as from a lover gone silent and cold.
You walk in a sunken green light,
stand before your water mirror,
then cut off your hair

I find you, I lose you. You change,
stand fast in a makeshift of shadows;
you leave, and ferry my heart away.

Your voice from its inner distance
saying your poem, your myth,
born from the bark of your tree.


From THE OWL IN THE MASK OF THE DREAMER (Graywolf Press, 1993)

 

Poems by John Haines

Daphne

The Traveler

Trees are People and the People are Trees