Inside rooms I’ve never seen
an old man beats himself
at chess, the moon recurs
as a white dove in a child’s dream,
a virgin leaves the glass
and, turning the light, retires;
as the mirror broods on itself.
Though the sun burns still through a vacant sky
frost thickens on the gates
and the moon grows up in the poplar's shade.
A girl waits, lonely, on the bridge.
can I tell her of remote roads
where love, not knowing the shock of loss,
has atrophied, and no-one sees
how, at the desolate junctions
the monuments of the old dead bleed
with the green ichors of bronze;
or there are streets,
icy now where pools contract,
where I have heard the ringing footfalls of a child
who will remember evenings
charged with light, fever
of strange games played
in the falling of the oblique sun;
the private hurt of times and words
not uttered yet.
And shall I tell the destitute
how I have found their misery
like the wardrobe of a suicide, where I
the living, recognize
only the faded linens, the frayed cloth,
the torn letters in an inside pocket,
extracts from an unintelligible
and unfinished history;
or tell the old of aging
and the inevitable death.
with dusk the rain comes;
the ice loosens and the expanding locks
respond and open. such time impedes
the passage of another fall
that drags through lengthening nights
into the season of its bitter end.