for Elfie Raymond


If it were not so bright,
Not so dark;
If there had been another hour,


Another storm,
Something to keep track of
Or something to hold at bay;


If there had been no bird
On the barest tree,
With one bitter crumb in its mouth,


One little speck;
If the honey surrounding that crumb
Had not been sweet,


If the evening had been less silent,
Humming one note
Without leaving any name,


Calling me to a field whose sickle moon
Made it clear
That nothing would speak;

If the way to the field
Had been less glorious,
A drop of dew beside a milkweed seed,


A ladybug scampering toward light,
And flowers on fire
Swaying among tall grasses—


A river of paper lanterns at dawn;
If the current did not carry
The scent of cyclamen,


Wild as grief
Spilling its horn of plenty,
Outlasting the final kiss of day.

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 16 Number 2, on page 38
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