XXXVII

ALCETA

Listen, Melisso: I want to tell you a dream I had last night, which comes to mind, seeing the moon again. I was standing at the window that looks out on the meadow staring up, when suddenly the moon unhooked herself. And it seemed to me that as she fell, the nearer she got the bigger she looked, until she hit the ground in the middle of the meadow, big as a bucket, and vomited a cloud of sparks that shrieked as loud as when you dunk a live coal in the water and drown it. So, as I said, the moon died in the middle of the meadow, little by little slowly darkening, and the grass was smoking all around. Then, looking up into the sky, I saw something still there, a glimmer or a shadow, or the niche that she'd been torn away from, which made me cold with fear. And I'm still anxious.

MELISSO

You were right to be afraid, when the moon fell so easily into your field.

ALCETA

Who knows? Don't we often see stars fall in summer?

MELISSO

                      There are so many stars that if one or another of them falls it's no great loss, since there are thousands left. But there's just this one moon up in the sky, which no one saw fall ever—except in dreams.

Related Poems

The Lemon Trees

Hear me a moment. Laureate poets 
seem to wander among plants
no one knows: boxwood, acanthus,
where nothing is alive to touch.
I prefer small streets that falter
into grassy ditches where a boy,
searching in the sinking puddles,
might capture a struggling eel.
The little path that winds down
along the slope plunges through cane-tufts
and opens suddenly into the orchard
among the moss-green trunks
of the lemon trees.

Perhaps it is better
if the jubilee of small birds
dies down, swallowed in the sky,
yet more real to one who listens,
the murmur of tender leaves
in a breathless, unmoving air.
The senses are graced with an odor
filled with the earth.
It is like rain in a troubled breast,
sweet as an air that arrives
too suddenly and vanishes.
A miracle is hushed; all passions
are swept aside. Even the poor
know that richness,
the fragrance of the lemon trees.

You realize that in silences
things yield and almost betray
their ultimate secrets.
At times, one half expects
to discover an error in Nature,
the still point of reality,
the missing link that will not hold,
the thread we cannot untangle
in order to get at the truth.

You look around. Your mind seeks,
makes harmonies, falls apart
in the perfume, expands
when the day wearies away.
There are silences in which one watches
in every fading human shadow
something divine let go.

The illusion wanes, and in time we return
to our noisy cities where the blue
appears only in fragments
high up among the towering shapes.
Then rain leaching the earth.
Tedious, winter burdens the roofs,
and light is a miser, the soul bitter.
Yet, one day through an open gate,
among the green luxuriance of a yard,
the yellow lemons fire
and the heart melts,
and golden songs pour
into the breast
from the raised cornets of the sun.