How can they call this dark when stars
That all day long the sun ruled out
Show brilliant at the ends of space?
Journeying down centennial rays
Those antique worlds stand in Earth’s air—
The coruscating helmets of
Warriors born before the births
Of Greeks who chose their diamond names.
All day the sun paints surfaces,
Commander of dial hands, pursues
The flying instants of last fashion.
But when night comes and windows hew
Light oblongs out of distances
Of solid sky, the park becomes
The fulgurous center of the city
Drawing from lonely streets the lonely
Under its boughs. There, in each other,
Beyond their coverings of clothes
And names, they see flesh blaze, and then
Those pasts they were before they were
Themselves emerge: ape, lion, fox. Their mouths
Conjoined, they utter cries that once
Jibbered upside-down through branches
Before woods ever dreamed of huts.
But two there are who look so deep
Into each other’s night, they see
Yet further than their meeting bodies
And earliest most brilliant star,
To where is nothing but a vow
That is their truth. Those instruments
Of world made flesh, they wore to prove
Before all change, their changeless word.
October 8, 1964