While there are still fireflies in the field,
Before the field of the heavens is flittered with shooting stars,
come with me
Pass to this chamber of my memory
the doorway is small but there are no walls –
it opens on a night of crickets and barking from four fields away –
there is a sweet smell
what the Earth really smells like
without the wallpaper of city life plastered on
Come, there is dancing in every field all around
you cannot look ahead or behind or to any side
without seeing the tiny lights darting.
Let it sink a sweet zinging hook into your chest
and pull you
out, out and away
there 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 it will not hurt
and you will be a better dancer afterward
Stop, the time has come.
We’ve spotted the first ten meteors or so
and here is this picnic table
don’t think about crust or dust
or peeling paint.
think not at all –
be for this night as one who senses and who feels,
and not as one who calculates,
O queen, my soul!
Lie back on the table
and let the sky be again your only husband
it was sweet that way
with anguish of sweetness and this will never be
not a phase of you yourself
Now the dances of the earthborn have passed,
and so have the dances of the heavenborn;
it is early in the morning and
you are weary with joy and longing unfulfilled
a real husband would be nice, you think,
or better yet someone to tell your deepest secrets to:
(do you recall such naivety?
what did you think a husband was that you lumped
every human desire into one ideal ephemeral form?)
This is why it is good to remember.
This is why it is good to enter once again a room of memory
in the house of your past
remember when you took to yourself
beauty, hard and fierce and blinding,
arrogant and joyous you were
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 attitudes and 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 you have of being
in a crib
in a soft sweetsmelling room;
the lights turn out;
and 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.