Pavane; or, A Mouthful of Bright Blue Prayers
I thought it said on the girl’s red purse
A kind of sad dance and all day
Wondered what was being defined . . .
The real love that follows
Early delight and ignorance.
A wonderful sad dance that comes after.
– Jack Gilbert, “Pavane”
I may be sitting inside the best afternoon
The world has put on since the Permian
Except for the solicitous
Passage of a few cars, like the last birds,
Along the road out front, you might think
The world had stopped breathing.
The kookaburras start up like a brass band
Out of practice, and the children’s voices
Tumble from the house like applause.
The wind picks up a stitch in time and
Drops it in the amber elms.
From the pear trees
That stand at my study window, fruit hang heavy
In the harvested light.
And the afternoon is a blue
Pavane, dancing gravely by in geologic time,
Her eyes closed, her lips parted, and her mouth
Full of catastrophic promises.