The Return


Honor Moore

After five days of rain, of clouds moving, of sudden
breaks into blue and wings lifting at dawn from the marsh,

after celebration, red silk looped from the ceiling,
dusks of dahlia in a still spin of fuschia, after

raspberry, blackberry, juice on every finger, comes
a day fire slashes a burn across my hand, night

of no moon, comes sleeplessness inexplicable, comes
a weight of ache in the back, drowse after an hour

of Hardy, a silhouette turned black by a burning
at the crown of a hill: comes you, hooded and lupine,

brazen and resolute, comes you on fire, in flames,
orange the dahlia, live the ash of burnt alder

she pokes with an iron stick. I call it sadness
by now thickened into difficult beauty, lifts her

toward you, exhausted, entangled, and the sky whites,
pine blackening against it, morning to bring wood

for the stove, dahlia for the glass vase, dream of a glass
door for the woman again to spin through.

I wanted your age, crooked leftover of your arms,
ghost of youth in the rise of your back,

its ghost also in the deep turquoise of your eyes.
I wanted the flourish of your glamor, the bashful

break into laughter. I wanted what you pledged vaguely
the year the war started, when I predicted one day

we’d stroll that square in the shade of centurion trees
where I drank easy coffee with friends, and talked to you

on the telephone, keeping war aside, telling you
the mountain I could see out the window, the green birds.

But until that night at the Lux I hadn’t seen you in years -
my hand in yours, a fast kiss where the burn now is,

hot water bottle here warming you from my limbs,
you whose exacting tenderness I still crave. They say

the trees went in days, cut down by the new government,
the cafés shuttered during the troubles, along with

laughter on the street, outdoor racks of skirts, lace blouses-
And the friends I once had there? They’ve moved to the islands.