Monday, October 19, 2009

"The world was all before them"


"The world was all before them, where to

choose / their place of rest": the worst part

being their memories,

tending still to the

west, like the sun to the umbrant hills, the

worst part and best, while bodies -- theirs and

others' -- descended, pushed on the breeze, full

westerly blast bestirring bedewed grass-

land, what passed here -- twisted and strained, like

fingers stained and clutching for fruit in the

flake of dirt, for fresh and supple again, and tumbled

seeds from the timeful

grind of the earth -- for



At the door, she had smiled and happily fumbled his

name, and how he agreed ("That's me, what-

ever she said, however she said" [and a

pause: he recalls Raphael recalling the

fallen, and pausing, "How

splendid he was before dawn";


now must breathe before he goes on]), the

breath of their meeting like flush of ripening

skin, sun-colored.


How fresh the memory

seemed, that permanent walk to the east -- eyes

outwardly blind each spearpoint squint of

morning -- of her. And the feeling, the first time

stale, of heat and dust in the air, the

scree of rocks under feet and points of

caving to pressure, too soft, the skin grown

scaly and rough at the joints and lips -- for

where, without stopping, were streams of water like

natural wine, the delicate lap of

beasts (their glossy

coats), the feasts of

words like fruits all loverly coy in their

hinting at trees, at roots grown worldly and

deep and together, the

natural graft of looks?


Intertwined, those peacefully sleepless

nights, the hook of branch and trunk, the

bark like elephant hide, a grey cloud-

lined, the memory layered up steep and

graveyard strong, the skulls in the glistering



Had they been walking so long and a-

lone, if only hand in hand?


That de-

scent as smooth into evening the moon, her

cloud-covered skin, his sidelong sight of her

(that man seems to me equal to the gods, who)

loving her loving her knowing too much, now

knowing the slide downhill to the east, the el-

liptic curve of breast, of belly and

hip, all hers and to him as if for the

first time given and alive, all theirs to


lose like surface tension, both are for-

bidden to touch. They know this much. Whether

earth encircles the radiant sun or re-

verse is the least of their troubles. In the permanent

past, not first, but in the end of longer-

lasting effect, not the cause of it all but be-

cause of it all, what worst and best re-

call into being the beginning at last: he

stands in the sunlit grass and breeze (she is

at her door and knows, and he knows) how

beautiful passing can be (the radiant

smile), how far the

apple falls from the tree.

(Edited 18 October 2009, begun 17 October 2009. The beginning is from Paradise Lost, whose ending I can hardly handle but which helped me grasp what I found so moving about the ending of a television show I also recently finished: how a present moment may revel in its _ending_ by revealing an earlier moment as the _beginning_.)

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