Thursday Poem

The Mystic Marriage

The fountain is stopped now
That made its water-noise
Into the small hours. Years ago
You thought it was rain,

Now, you sleep through everything
With the window open—
Late night jazz, a couple quarrelling,
Headlights, one mosquito.

‘It is three o’clock
In the morning. I am going
To the lovers’ bridge
In white mist, without you . . .’

I wake from that dream
Towards daybreak. You beside me
Still sleeping.
You were never a dawn person.

The fountain is on again.
Whole years have passed. And still
We have never left the south—
From which, if ever, each returns

Eternally changed, or not at all.
A white noise of swifts
Outside. Swallows sipping
Old dregs of misery—

The drained glass on the wooden table
Slowly filling with light.
And suddenly, a crash of bells
From Saint John of Malta

Hard by, and two flights down,
Approaching, lifting the spell,
A river of children’s voices
Growing and growing, out of the future,

• • •

Pure annunciation. Just in time
I retrieve it, like a dream transcript—
Our mystic marriage. Something, at last,
Has earthed itself inside you.

by Harry Clifton
from The Boston Review,
July/August 2010