Meanwhile

M
It waits. While I am walking through the pine trees
along the river, it is waiting. It has waited a long time.
In southern France, in Belgium, and even Alabama.
Now it waits in New England while I say grace over
almost everything: for a possum dead on someone’s lawn,
the sing light on a levee while Northampton sleeps,
and because the lanes between houses in Greek hamlets
are exactly the width of a donkey loaded on each side
with barley. Loneliness is the mother’s milk of America.
The heart is a foreign country whose language none
of us is good at. Winter lingers on in the woods,
but already it looks discarded as the birds return
and sing carelessly; as though there never was the power
or size of December. For nine years in me it has waited.
My life is pleasant, as usual. My body is a blessing
and my spirit clear. But the waiting does not let up.
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I have my tides, O sea-foamed Venus, dearer than watercress, pipkins, thyme and clymene. You once held me by the cord of my navel, but I have not died to live in Mahomet’s paradise.

Would that I could gather up my love to me as one does one’s fate, or measure her nature as God does the sea.

We are a weary race that hates seedtime. Poor Persephone, who is Maying springtime, and the coming up of flowers! We remember only what we seed, and Persephone goes down into the earth after Spring and Summer vegetation only because Pluto gave her pomegranate seeds to remember him, but if the seed perish, Persephone will die, and memory shall pass from the earth.

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I shed tears on the Mount of Olives because people no longer care for each other, but my friends have lacked the character for the vigil. There is no Cana wine in human affections that are not always awake, for people who do not trouble about each other are foes.

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I am afraid to say that people are truthful. When a man tells me he is honest I press my hand close to my heart where I keep my miserable wallet. If he says he has any goodness in him, I avoid him, for I trust nobody who has so little fear of the evils that grow and ripen in us while we imagine we have one virtuous trait. These demons lie in ambush in the thick, heady coverts of the blood, where hypocrisy and egoism fatten, waiting to mock or betray us in any moment of self-esteem.

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V
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