The Return


Once more, listening to the wind and rain, 
Once more, you and I, and above the hurting sound
Of these comes back the throbbing of remembered rain, 
Treasured rain falling on dark ground. 
Once more, huddling birds upon the leaves
And summer trembling on a withered vine. 
And once more, returning out of pain, 
The friendly ghost that was your love and mind. 


Darkness brings the jungle to our room: 
The throb of rain is the throb of muffled drums. 
Darkness hangs our room with pendulums
Of vine and in the gathering gloom
Our walls recede into a denseness of 
Surrounding trees. This is a night of love 
Retained from those lost nights our fathers slept 
In huts; this is a night that must not die. 
Let us keep the dance of rain our fathers kept
And tread our dreams beneath the jungle sky. 


And now the downpour ceases. 
Let us go back once more upon the glimmering leaves 
And as the throbbing of the drums increases 
Shake the grass and dripping boughs of trees.
A dry wind stirs the palm; the old tree grieves. 

Time has charged the years: the old days have returned. 

Let us dance by metal waters burned 
With gold of moon, let us dance 
With naked feet beneath the young spice trees. 
What was that light, that radiance 
On your face?—something I saw when first 
You passed beneath the jungle tapestries?

A moment we pause to quench our thirst
Kneeling at the water’s edge, the gleam 
Upon your face is plain: you have wanted this. 
Let us go back and search the tangled dream 
And as the muffled drum-beats throb and miss
Remember again how early darkness comes 
To dreams and silence to the drums. 


Let us go back into the dusk again, 
Slow and sad-like following the track
Of blowing leaves and cool white rain
Into the old gray dream, let us go back. 
Our walls close about us we lie and listen 
To the noise of the street, the storm and the driven birds. 
A question shapes your lips, your eyes glisten 
Retaining tears, but there are no more words. 

From Caroling Dusk (Harper & Brothers, 1927), edited by Countee Cullen. This poem is in the public domain.