The Young Girl at the Ball


While the young girl, with her full breasts and thighs
Eloquent through her clothes, moves as a tree
Bends and returns against the torrents of air,
The voice of my Demon falters, the babble dies
Around me; and, as the music ends, I see
Her smile and watch her walking back to her chair.

When I was young I should have found in her arms
My venture, my voyage, the talisman and the sign,
Had I straddled her beautiful flanks or gathered her breast in my hand.
Each turn of the fabulous way would be quick with alarms
Where the dreadful crags thrust up through their forests of pine
And the dragons stirred in their dens as I rode through that land.

Had I been older, I should have entered her gate
As a traveller coming home to the cherished fire
Of a house where the heart goes in and out at its need;
I should have learned to move to her music, to wait
Through all the returning seasons of desire
For ripeness, and seen her belly abundant with my seed.

I have journeyed; I have come home; it is late in the year to depart.
She will not move to my arms or come to my bed.
She turns and smiles into other eyes than mine.
What is it, then, tears at my animal heart?
As I watched her dance, in every gesture I read
The challenge, the summons, the unmistakeable sign

Of the sensual miracle: Now, at last, I see
Those hidden presences and powers, aware
Of a promise kept, of mysteries revealed;
Just as the eye observes from the motions of the tree
All the invisible energies of the air
In the toss and recoil of boughs in an open field.

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