The world bends us to its purpose.
In the public gardens, we found
a “gazing globe” balanced
on a waist-high pedestal,
a silver ball a foot in circumference,
reflecting sky and ground,
ourselves as we stood above it.
We stared into its depths,
as in a crystal ball,
our faces large and wild,
arms and legs unnaturally small,
as if a spell were on the world,
or, finally, we clearly saw the world
for what it was: too brightly
shining, circular, unadorned.
Trees bent toward us, mere shadows
of themselves, their shadows
more substantial than the trees themselves.
The sky at one o’clock
a milky white, light-filled,
yet without sun or cloud. And beds
of tulips rising from the groundswell,
each one a little mouth.
I knelt beside you on one knee,
caught up in walls of air
I couldn’t touch or see, the outer world
around me wavering, as on a hot summer day.
We looked out to the future. Our future
selves. You stood dead center
in the globe and raised your hand to stop
the scene, your palm enlarging
until it dwarfed the tallest trees.
Then waving goodbye, we walked,
as a joke, backward and away,
farther and farther away—
the globe still gazing on us—
leaving ourselves behind
to live forever in that silver room,
to watch and spy on lovers like ourselves.
Elizabeth Spires, “Waving Goodbye” from Swan’s Island (Pittsburgh: Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1997). Copyright © 1985 by Elizabeth Spires. Reprinted with the permission of the author.
Source: Swan’s Island (Holt Rinehart & Winston, 1997)