Issue 82, Winter 1981
Often I gazed at you in wonder: stood at the window begun
the day before, stood and gazed at you in wonder. As yet the new town
seemed denied to me, and the unpersuaded landscape kept darkening
as though I didn’t exist. Even the nearest things
made not the slightest effort to be understood. The road
thrust itself up to the streetlamp: I saw it was a stranger.
Across the way, a room: clarified in the lamplight,
accessible; already I took paa; they felt that, and closed the shutters.
Stood. Then a child cried. I knew that the mothers
were all around, in the houses—what they could do; and knew also,
all at once, the inconsolable causes of all tears.
Or a voice sang, and reached out a little beyond
expectation; or downstairs an old man let out
a cough full of reproach, as though his body were in the right
against the mild world. Then the hour
struck—but I counted too late, it tumbled on past me. .. .
Like a new boy at school, who is finally allowed to join in,
but he can’t catch the ball, is helpless at all the games
the others pursue with such ease among themselves, and he stands there
and stares off into the distance (where?)—so I stood and suddenly
grasped it was you: you were playing with me,
grown-up Night, and I gazed at you in wonder. Where the towers
were raging, where with averted fate
a town surrounded me, and indecipherable mountains
camped against me, and the unknown, in narrowing circles,
prowled hungry around the random
flickerings of my emotions—: then, lofty Night,
you were not ashamed to know me. Your breath
moved over me. And, spread across solemn distances,
your smile entered my heart.