Portraits

I

MOTHER

I

Your love was like moonlight turning harsh things to beauty, so that little wry souls reflecting each other obliquely as in cracked mirrors… beheld in your luminous spirit their own reflection, transfigured as in a shining stream, and loved you for what they are not.

You are less an image in my mind than a luster I see you in gleams pale as star-light on a gray wall… evanescent as the reflection of a white swan shimmering in broken water.

II

(To E. S.)

  You inevitable,
  Unwieldy with enormous births,
  Lying on your back, eyes open, sucking down stars,
  Or you kissing and picking over fresh deaths…
  Filth… worms… flowers…
  Green and succulent pods…
  Tremulous gestation
  Of dark water germinal with lilies…
  All in you from the beginning…
  Nothing buried or thrown away…
  Only the moon like a white sheet
  Spread over the dead you carry.

III

(To H.)

  Speeding gull
  Passing under a cloud
  Caught on his white back
  You… drop of crystal rain.
  Now you gleam softly triumphant
  Folding immensities of light.

IV

(To O. F. T.)

  You have always gotten up after blows
  And smiled… and shaken off the dust…
  Only you could not shake the darkness
  From off the bruised brown of your eyes.

V

(To E. A. R.)

Centuries shall not deflect nor many suns absorb your stream, flowing immune and cold between the banks of snow. Nor any wind carry the dust of cities to your high waters that arise out of the peaks and return again into the mountain and never descend.

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"Portraits" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 5 Jul 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/25916/portraits>.

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