poem index

Sutra

Marilyn Krysl
Looking back now, I see 
I was dispassionate too often, 
dismissing the robin as common, 
and now can't remember what 
robin song sounds like. I hoarded
my days, as though to keep them 
safe from depletion, and meantime 
I kept busy being lonely. This 
took up the bulk of my time, 
and I did not speak to strangers 
because they might be boring, 
and there were those I feared 

would ask me for money. I was
clumsy around the confident, 
and the well bred, standing on 
their parapets, enthralled me,
but when one approached, I
fled. I also feared the street's 
down and outs, anxious lest 
they look at me closely, and 
afraid I would see their misery. 

I feared my father who feared 
me and did not touch me, 
which made me more afraid. 
My mother feared him too, 
and as I grew to be like him, 
she became afraid of me also. 
I kept busy avoiding dangers 
of many colors, fleeing from 
those with whom I had much 

in common. Now afternoon, 
one chair in the garden. Late
low light, the lilies still open,
sky beyond them preparing 
to close for the night. I'd 
made money, but had I kissed

a single lily? On the chair's
arm my empty cup. Its curved 
lip struck, bright in late light. 
I watch that last light going, 
leaving behind its brief burning
 which will come to nothing. 

The lilies still open, waiting.

Let me be that last sliver of light.
Let me be that last gleaming sliver of silver, 
there for an instant on the lily's petal, 

light speaking in tongues, tongues of flame.

Copyright © 2011 by Marilyn Krysl. Used with permission of the author.

Marilyn Krysl