Some things I do not profess to understand, perhaps not wanting to, including whatever it was they did with you or you with them that timeless summer day when you stumbled out of the wood, distracted, with your white blouse torn and a bloodstain on your skirt. "Do you believe?" you asked. Between us, through the years, we pieced enough together to make the story real: how you encountered on the path a pack of sleek, grey hounds, trailed by a dumbshow retinue in leather shrouds; and how you were led, through leafy ways, into the presence of a royal stag, flaming in his chestnut coat, who kneeled on a swale of moss before you; and how you were borne aloft in triumph through the green, stretched on his rack of budding horn, till suddenly you found yourself alone in a trampled clearing. That was a long time ago, almost another age, but even now, when I hold you in my arms, I wonder where you are. Sometimes I wake to hear the engines of the night thrumming outside the east bay window on the lawn spreading to the rose garden. You lie beside me in elegant repose, a hint of transport hovering on your lips, indifferent to the harsh green flares that swivel through the room, searchlights controlled by unseen hands. Out there is a childhood country, bleached faces peering in with coals for eyes. Our lives are spinning out from world to world; the shapes of things are shifting in the wind. What do we know beyond the rapture and the dread?
From The Collected Poems by Stanley Kunitz (W. W. Norton, 2000). Copyright © 1985 by Stanley Kunitz. Used by permission of W. W. Norton. All rights reserved.