Hot July ’75 days left a sky’s breadth lethargy
over the living world, where a breath of cool air,
a trickle of cold water, a draught of cold beer
were our day-to-day deities – all else
one weary step to another, even birds hushed, it seemed,
weather-wise, shaded in silent woods,
life itself hidden, just heartbeats heard.
Or was that pulse the measure of Earth’s passage,
marking the slow glide of time through day?
Or the sun’s silent, sure descent
to shape late afternoon and then leave,
tucking the last light into corners, then stealing it all away?
No doubt more scientific minds would work it out.
And maybe make a difference.
We chose to walk, despite the heat, you wanted to
touch and feel where I’d grown up, discern the person,
make sense of my prediction, just a few days before,
that you and I would love fiercely and jealously –
yes, jealously, though I’d thought I’d left all that behind;
a neat conceit, a killjoy’s dried up mind, youth’s contrived
denial of my new addiction.
So far banal, so far back, new lovers broach a sunburnt lane,
side by side, arm-enveloped, walk on but move no air aside
and when together they turn to gather in, again, sweet confirmations,
they feel they breathe as one – no traverse of the lightest breeze
between them, one way or the other, save
enough to cause the quiver – no, the faintest flicker –
of a lip at the edge of a kiss to come.
Then they do kiss, choreographed by all amorous onlooker gods,
the sum of every godly lesson for earthly kings and queens
excelled by their skills, so yet more royal they feel –
and rightly so, for they rule each other, consensually, entirely:
no tongues tied, they restate the art of silent lovers’ conversations
and their lipwords promise sweet souls’ caresses,
sighs echo somewhere deep inside.
They walk on, their rhythm slow, voluptuous, languorous,
her hip guiding his, the gentlest magnet pull
to lull them into march-long harmony of limbs.
Look! They float above the Earth, its masters, one might cry.
See! The clearest view of lovers’ confidence that,
so majestically aligned, their entwinement must outlive life itself.
Thus plays the haze of a summer’s day.
Such was that day’s alchemy, a day of perfect equilibrium.
Too much so perhaps, perhaps just an ornament when
blood and torment, pain and sadness need simple, sober, quiet devotion?
We did not ask that question then nor, less footsure, later.
And we did not walk that way in winter.
Though answers budded, and grew hardy,
in the garden of that lost love’s taker.