Looking back now, I see I was dispassionate too often, dismissing the robin as common, and now can't remember what robin song sounds like. I hoarded my days, as though to keep them safe from depletion, and meantime I kept busy being lonely. This took up the bulk of my time, and I did not speak to strangers because they might be boring, and there were those I feared would ask me for money. I was clumsy around the confident, and the well bred, standing on their parapets, enthralled me, but when one approached, I fled. I also feared the street's down and outs, anxious lest they look at me closely, and afraid I would see their misery. I feared my father who feared me and did not touch me, which made me more afraid. My mother feared him too, and as I grew to be like him, she became afraid of me also. I kept busy avoiding dangers of many colors, fleeing from those with whom I had much in common. Now afternoon, one chair in the garden. Late low light, the lilies still open, sky beyond them preparing to close for the night. I'd made money, but had I kissed a single lily? On the chair's arm my empty cup. Its curved lip struck, bright in late light. I watch that last light going, leaving behind its brief burning which will come to nothing. The lilies still open, waiting. Let me be that last sliver of light. Let me be that last gleaming sliver of silver, there for an instant on the lily's petal, light speaking in tongues, tongues of flame.
Villanelle with Violin
I was so small, so very much afraid.
I prayed my father might turn into light.
There was no price that I would not have paid
to pray the way the light knelt down and prayed.
I prayed that I might learn to be like light,
but I was small, and very much afraid,
and he stayed silent. Was I badly made?
His violin made sound turn into light,
and there’s no price that I would not have paid
to hear him play Thais each night. He made
it sound as though the bow was made of light.
Still I was small, and very much afraid
when he got mad and broke the things he’d made.
He tried and tried so hard to do things right,
and there’s no price that he would not have paid
to sit with me at dusk and watch light fade.
Both of us were made from that same light,
And there’s no price we two would not have paid—
we who were small and very much afraid.