Swept clean of leaves, with stripped boughs, the garden
Lifts black arms to the wan sky of winter,
Mater Dolorosa: the orchid house
Shuttered, and no birds by the pond’s clear glass
Where the boy and dolphin stand, to summer constant
Rapt yet in the daze of an archaic dream.

Here was my hope planted, the virgin dream
Of evergreen amazement, a snakeless garden.
By my own fault, to true love unconstant
I chart now an iron graph of winter;
Or, Hans Andersen’s mermaid, walk on glass,
On thorns, hot ploughshares, through a charnel house.

But you, stranger, in my body’s house
Sheltered, dreaming your deepwater dream,
Who make my shape strange in a looking-glass:
You, curled in the dusk of the first garden,
Forgive me if I call your weight a winter,
Castaway, to an older sun constant.

The flesh may be infirm, the spirit constant,
Though none know this in parlour or priest’s house.
You, conceived in icy absence, winter
Of sight, sound, touch, are substance of that dream
I dreamt when first I walked an autumn garden
And foresaw lasting joy in a lying glass.

Were he love’s kind, to see without a glass,
He would be constant yet to me inconstant,
Forgive as one did in Gethsemane’s garden;
But here are shapes lewd in a haunted house
I am alone, locked in the glacial dream
Of those who wake and know the world’s winter.

Lie still, child of unfaith—soon comes Winter,
Though you fear nothing, in the womb’s dark glass
Withheld: storm, tremor, cannot shake your dream;
Nor shall drug shatter. To your own law constant,
Fly whorled in amber, sleep—to a warring house
You will wake soon, and an unfruitful garden.

—I had not thought, garden, that I would winter
In the ill planet’s house. Prediction’s glass
Is flawed by our inconstant waking dream.


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