The Last Evening

                       after Rilke


And night and the large wheels turning,
rutting the earth toward the cannon's thunder.
He looked up from the piano to find her
across the room, her face a warning
and a prayer, mirroring, he realized, his own.
Outside, a fresh wind ruffled the trees above
the house and she grew more seductive
in his gaze as he continued with the song.

Then suddenly, both faces dulled.
And he stopped playing while she listened
to the wind and to her heart. His field cap
on the table now seemed strangely distant,
folded neatly as though it were an ancient map
holding within itself all the monstrous world.

Copyright © 2006 BOA Editions, Ltd. Used by permission of the publisher.