There were the hours we spent
In gentle wonderment, walking together.
Shadows of the afternoon across our path.
Yet we were blinded by a greater sun, made
One and still divided in burning clarity of
Self, souls suspended in the bright air.
We were grave lovers, engulfed as by a mighty
Swell of tears; the pressure of the hand, the
Tender eyes, the whole merged in a whole, yet
You could speak — I was afraid to yield the
Vastness to a word, a sign that might trouble
The hour, the brightness and the joy.
We were grave lovers (you promised this would be
Although I doubted); our laughter grew
To a brave thing. So rare a day as this
We did not know would end so soon whose
Night was but the ashes of our noon.
I am supposed to blench for you, my heightened
Friend who loved. Miss R. who showed (said Bernard
C., whoever he) “cold purity of passion” but
“Added neither weight nor roused new hope thereby
For undergraduate poetry.” He knew his stuff.
He knew that “burning clarity of self” was just
A blind, that wholes cannot grammatically or
Any other way be merged in wholes, that the
Existence of a soul was doubtful (Donne be damned)
In Melbourne of the Fifties. But calloused to
Survive, though he she loved is dead and she was
In another country burning laid, I wouldn’t change
A word, young fuzzy platonist, whose fine illusory
Clarity throughout less heightened years has unmade
© Fay Zwicky