Now as the nights lengthen and the placid season
Ages to decay, we can hear, my love
(Waiting with window flowers, a wood fire flaring across
The small safe room) — we can hear the rawhead
Elegies of winter in the wind striding perilous
From antarctic, ravening where our days lie tangled.

Against that ice colossus I recall now the tangled
Wild bush at Silverstream in the picnic season.
You bathed there laughing, where deep and perilous
Under clay banks the creek ran. With sharpened love
I saw the child swell under your dress: the fountainhead
Of our content was plain, Time’s enmity no cross.

And under the bridge shaken where lorries cross
And stones are flood-scum white with briars tangled
Among them—kids had scrawled an ogre’s head
And crooked thigh, graffiti of a season
More innocent than ours, whose adult love
Walks in the night, naked and perilous.

Like Bors we come to the Chapel Perilous
Torn arches, sunken tomb and ruined cross.
This is where our too-long-buried love
Festering waits renewal. Against night’s terror tangled
No charm avails; here in a dry season
A generation stands, cloud thundering overhead.

For symbol take the Maori coffinhead
Seen under glass, proclaiming perilous
The grief and horror of an older season
Purged perhaps long since by the mission cross;
Yet big with death, emerges from the tangled
Archaic night, dwarfing our human love.

So too in the small death of parting, love,
When the ferry stirred gigantic, turning her head
Seaward. My heart, my very breath entangled
With yours, drawn out to fragile perilous
Threads of longing stretching across
The darkened Strait and the autumnal season.

May Time season our too wincing love
With the humour of the Cross, sparing your fortunate head
And in a perilous age our skein of peace untangled.


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  1.    sestinas » Some sestinas to find... on May 9, 2007 8:21 pm

    […] Ashbery (”Farm Implements and Rutabagas in a Landscape“). […]

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