When you're not here, my mind is free 
to reconstruct the face of fact
by smoothing wrinkled moments 
into smiling times together.  
Presence is by nature painful, for 
it puts us near an infinite
unknown.  A half-forgotten voice 
grabs me from behind. Midway 
across the court, I stop and turn
to face a flurry of deceased
designs, that I had thought
to trample underfoot, but which
with this new wind are sent
in spinning spirals past my eyes.
Is it really better
to let the past lie fallen?  Or
does such dizzying revival reach
at last into the heart of our
submission to recurrent lies?

Summer was deceiving, when 
it held out hope that all would go 
on growing in eternal green.
The young plants intertwined
and sought to clothe each other in 
a coffin of excitement, to feel
each other's dampness on
desiring limbs---at once to salve
the pain and feed the fire.  No use.
We never did learn that dew
is offered just as breakfast.

Yet winter's warmth is just 
as much a lie: a cozy wrap
of solipsistic slumber, fit
for squirrels and doddards, 
who spend the dying quarter of
their life in munching moments left
from last year's plenty.  But we
cannot afford to dwell on love
remembered.  It muffs our ears
and bows our frost-bit faces,
leaving us unbothered by
the form that passes in the night.
And there is someone I must meet.

Beginnings are at best
a little overstated, like
the gaudy baubles with which
spring delights to deck herself.
But autumn is an honest time
when we no longer need pretend
that we are tied together at
the stem.  So what, if we are
somewhat withered and dispersed
by this strange turning.
Since there's no synthesis
so stable that it can endure
a change of season, why blame
the breeze for having blown too cold?
I find the tree
a lesson in futility.

But someone told me once

So why not ride the wind?
Drop hands.  And fall apart
in rising.  And resurrected, fall
again.  And being blown
together by intermittent gusts,
now at last, we will learn
to join in dancing unrestricted.

 

                                                                     -- Mahlon H. Smith 

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* Note: This poem 
is a revised edition of an entry 
in the author's journal
dated 28 October 1966
and is published here for the first time. 


Collected Poems
of
Mahlon H Smith

copyright 2005
all rights reserved