Looking into the vase, into the calyx, into the water drop,
Looking into the throat of the flower, at the pollen stain,
I can see the ambush love sprung once in the summery wood.
I can see the casualties where they lay, till they set forth again.
I can see the lips, parted first in surprise, parted in desire,
Smile now as a silence falls on the yellow-dappled ride
For each thinks the other can hear each receding thought
On each receding tide.
They have come out of the wood now. They are skirting the fields
Between the tall wheat and the hedge, on the unploughed strips,
And they believe anyone who saw them would know
Every secret of their limbs and of their lips,
As if, like creatures of legend, they had come down out of the mist
Back to their native city, and stood in the square.
And they were seen to be marked at the throat with a certain sign
Whose meaning all could share.
* * * * *
These flowers came from a shop. Really they looked nothing much
Till they opened as if in surprise at the heat of this hotel.
Then the surprise turned to a shout, and the girl said, “Shall I
chuck them now
Or give them one more day? They’ve not lasted so well.”
“Oh give them one more day. They’ve lasted well enough.
They’ve lasted as love lasts, which is longer than most maintain.
Look at the sign it has left here at the throat of the flower
And on your tablecloth—look at the pollen stain.”

This Issue

August 11, 2005