A rose from night sprang living,
As cascaded down it ran a water from first times
And toward the realms of psyches not long living
First impressed a notion on their minds.
The rose at which you look, and nothing else can see,
Shall have the name of "beauty";
You will seek it so long as you shall live,
And your posterity shall never know it lived, or else shall wreck it.
Then shone the stars, and upward turned men's eyes,
And spun the earth round and round.
Centuries passed. Women bore men moribund
And daughters moribund to like pangs fated.
How did I get here? - but
I craned my neck as well, until my sight
A burden fell became; and down from heaven
Floated weary eyes I thought my own.
What luck - as good as bad - that such a light
Concealed of old then in my vision shone.
But something was amiss; she had a name,
And flesh clothed her.
Flesh dies, but she cannot -
For timeless was that void from whence she came,
Her essence; all is lost, if that could rot.
No thing knew she of this. With thick pastels
Her eyes were caked,
And red were her cheeks chagrined.
Greater beauty bore the weightless wind
To her, but wore she other beauty -
Hell's. In dreams I begged her, trappings to forgo,
That coveters of hers had once invented
In jealousy who loveliness resented.
In dreams I pled,
The world is truly thus, canst thou not know?
Quite old grew dreams, and when I dared approach her,
She smiled, and in her smile I saw a flash of being,
And briefly did I live. But when she spoke,
Her place and mine flooded back to me,
In water fake but real - it held me down,
It showed me that it nourished her before I was a memory
In minds of men or women. And she spoke,
"Your mind is heavy, let me share the weight."
I called her beauty, to that I equated her.
She took a pace, and laughed.
"My friend, thou speakest daft!
But thees and thous are dead,
And my blood, no less red than yours, flows through my veins,
So don't ascribe your pains to heaven or to hell,
Your wild mind afflicts you, nothing else." And beauty scorned me.
I saw her often after, and each time
More lovely she appeared, and with the world grew closer, to all people,
So that from afar I looked at her,
But nearness was denied.
I sat and wept; she came to me after long days,
And soon she also cried.
I asked her what was wrong - she didn't answer.
But in her hands her tears fell, red and violet,
And from her face her paint gushed onto dirt.
The moon shone on her wrinkled face and filled them in,
Bruises on her arms turned white again,
Her cloudy eyes were sharper than the rain.
And ghastly she looked, but I did not fear her.
I smiled at her, and she frowned. And when the clouds obscured the moon,
The puddle glowed at her feet and sank into the earth.
I dug up some of the dirt, but its sheen had gone.
She grinned at my dirty hands, soil caught beneath the fingernails.
That was the last I saw of her,
And ever since the stars at night shone brighter.
My friends have told me that in fitful sleep
I mumble, "Gone is beauty from the earth,
Yet always need we seek it."
My dreams can talk,
But for my part, I still will try to find
Her whom such beauty graced; not for nothing was it hers.
April 28, 2006.