Outside a verandah gives upon a court
Full of tin cans and whistles. Over hill
The noise of nubile screaming shreds the night.
Not any thing about this place is still;
The presentation of the virgins sounds
Harsh as a sacrifice, heavy with blood
In the stone stables of boys where they gleefully fall.
Can we come out of that sober at all?
That ape distortion with its talking wounds,
That putting off the human for the dog?
Out in the street the frightened sirens call,
Crowds gather. The high diver dives for good,
Bloody in his incendiary fall.
Here there are only the two of us, and we-
Do we know any better than they why we have met?
And your hand lifting the glass, leaving a wet
Stain on the broken table, is it there
In anything beside a minute’s heat,
Some sight that in the mirror edge will change?
I walk through silver, knowing it is strange,
Hoping you are on my side of the glass
And I can touch you and you not be less.
Afraid of words, the tenderness of words
That come to the lips out of their own accord-
Here peace must marry with the violent sword,
Its violence collected to repose,
And all the words my mouth has ever said
Will fail to tell us whether we live or die,
But that mouth close on your throat is comforted
And in that softness finds no perjury.
In time of war, the men of virtue go
Apart to fight the war of their good will,
And in the Saturnalia there is still
The center moment, full of silences,
The eye, the constancy, the generous part,
The gift moving equally within the heart.
Mere touch is truth, when it can echo so,
In lightning bridge the compass of our sky;
Your hand light on my shoulder is the flow
Of everything you have done, and learned thereby,
Your mouth the echo of your childhood mouth.
Kissing with all the years that are between
We taste the intricate pattern of our growth,
The cruel or devious persons we have been,
And are accepted in our shamefastness,
Not being more than human, and not less.
Naked between the angel and the beast
Explore the limits of our continent-
Under the arching of the bodiless air
Here is the undivided element
Earlier than day and night can cleave apart,
Older than we, but given to us now
For us in the slight body to make new
With sound and touch, with the arrest that came
In the recognition of our single name.
Put out the light. Somewhere the morning stirs.
Outside the world is dead or gone to sleep.
Still on their branches stand the sleeping birds;
On the verandah the still air lies steep.
And in the room, the murmur is of sleep.
Lie close, lie quiet, weary and undistressed,
Kissing the hand that hollows to your breast.