Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Jane Miller

By Jane Miller b. 1949

Fire on the mountain, fire under the lake.
Like children, we look on and dream.
We are loved, and none of the images
for love is absolute, so we are frightened.
We cast a glance into our past,
and not at any remarkable affair
but ordinary efforts – that spray of light
at breakfast where we ran out of milk –
we feel as somehow true.
Dare we touch it with a word
it loses its meaning, though not
its beauty. It becomes a fire
in the heart, incomprehensible and expressive,
an image of the whole, so that when finally a man
falls in love with life, it is like an arbor
begged of a desert, for he has accepted
the mirage. Now he is filled with goodness,
as if the unknown were something somehow
sightly slowed, a whole world
in one mountain, pool, and sky
under which we sit sipping milk.
So we are twelve again,
our sexual experience of the world focused
on that tree under which we undress.
The willow caresses us with a sudden gust,
but we have already turned, made up our mind.
It’s very cold in the mornings, and hot by noon.
Plants grow slowly and never die completely.
Nowhere is there greater sympathy
than between the porcelain sky
and the chlorinated waters of the pools.
Still it stays with us that at any moment
a miracle might enter us as easily.
For we are lucky, we are children
in their fullest expression – lonesome
because we are moving through time
like a dot that becomes a sleeping figure
who is actually dead,
who has been killed,
and from whose nightmare
we continually wake into another
world, a moment we feel like kissing
someone’s half-open mouth, once only
an image of fire and water.

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