WHEN you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim Soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.
--William Butler Yeats, 1893
SWEETHEART,do not love too long,
I loved long and long,
And grew to be out of fashion
Like an old song.
All through the years of our youth
Neither could have known
Their own thought from the other's,
We were so much at one.
But O, in a minute she changed-
O do not love too long,
Or you will grow out of fashion
Like an old song.
William Butler Yeats, 1904
LAST JULY, they loosened their grip, let go--
plum, sweet plum--until the grass
was bloody with the warm flesh. Months later
the finches, purple fruit, hide in what's left of leaves
so that only when they fly off,
when the branches bounce back to true
is their presence known. They will not outstay
the leaves, the thin white light disclosing
those empty hands, the tree, against the sky.
This trip south, the egret questions the lagoon:
the white curl of its own back is the answer.
No matter how many times I return, this shallow inlet
to the sea will be here; and the egret, long gone,
will grace it with presence.
In "The Blind Samurai" the camera zooms
to the old man's clever ear: a double metonymy
that links our deafness to his danger. By the time
we catch on--snap, snap, footsteps
in the underbrush--
he has done battle and
bandits litter the forest like cordwood.
The camellia loses its head
all at once; it does not diminish
petal by petal
so for weeks the severed blossom lingers
as moist as pain, at the foot of the bush.
If the police ordered me to evacuate,
what would I take with me?
Baby pictures, computer disks, the silver,
proofs of birth? The sun
would hang like old fruit until the smoke
gathered it in. Then: night in day, sirens,
and knowing that whatever I took
would hold in its small cup
everything I had ever lost.
So if the police ordered me to evacuate during a firestorm,
I would write your name on a slip of paper,
light it, and--
in those few hurried moments allowed me--
watch it burn, brush the ashes into an envelope
which I would seal and keep with me, always.
Borderlands, Twenty-five Years of U.S. Hispanic Literature.
Lauro Flores. Seattle: UofW Press, 1998, pp. 390-391