Such Is the Sickness of Many a Good Thing

Was he then Adam of the Burning Way? 
hid away in the heat like wrath 
        conceald in Love’s face, 
or the seed, Eris in Eros, 
        key and lock 
of what I was?        I could not speak 
        the releasing 
word.        For into a dark 
        matter he came 
and askt me to say what 
        I could not say.        "I .." 

All the flame in me stopt 
        against my tongue. 
My heart was a stone, a dumb 
        unmanageable thing in me, 
a darkness that stood athwart 
        his need 
for the enlightening, the 
        "I love you" that has 
only this one quick in time, 
        this one start 
when its moment is true. 

Such is the sickness of many a good thing 
that now into my life from long ago this 
refusing to say I love you has bound 
the weeping, the yielding, the 
        yearning to be taken again, 
into a knot, a waiting, a string 

so taut it taunts the song, 
it resists the touch. It grows dark 
to draw down the lover’s hand 
from its lightness to what’s 

From Bending the Bow. Copyright © 1968 by Robert Duncan. Reprinted with the permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.