Midsummer, No Fairies | Bob Shepherd
Where have you gone, fairies of my childhood?
Have I grown too blustering and blundering,
Too puffed up with knowledge and opinions?
I seek you in the clearing of the wood
And there find only the luminescence
You have left behind, hanging in the heavy
Midsummer’s air. Is this, then,
What is left me? This ripeness, this
Completedness, this disclosedness,
In the clearing, of things in themselves,
Naked and heavy as flesh?
I seek you by the margins of the lake,
And there find dragonflies and damselflies,
And the silver bodies of mullet jumping,
Breaking free of one world into another,
Again and again, as though they would
Break free for good or die trying.
And these are wonders, surely, but
They but intensify the longing you left,
With your mark upon my body,
When you returned me to the cradle.
How could I see those and not be reminded
Of the shimmering of your wings
By moonlight as we danced? I am wise to you.
This is what you do, is it not?
You return us, you leave us with the world
And the knowing that this richness beyond measure,
This clearing, for all its fullness, is not all,
Is not all at all, at all, at all.
It is a hard lesson, and I am, doubtless,
As slow a learner as the rest. But where have you gone?
I would ask the trees, for those of their
Gossiping, garrulous race would doubtless know,
And the wind is rising, and they are bending their heads,
One to another, on the opposite shore, and
Making a racket. Are they oblivious? Do they mock?
I cannot know, for I haven’t their language.
Perhaps one could learn it, in time.
Perhaps if I sat here and listened long enough,
I could figure it out, for surely the San tongue
Sounds equally incomprehensible to the anthropologist,
Hearing it spoken, at first,
Within the clearing that is their world, in all its fullness,
With its ways of disclosing and of shutting out.
Copyright 2011, Robert D. Shepherd. All rights reserved.