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The Wanderer's New Life

I have wept longer than becomes a man.

My face in the river shows me these

three day’s vigil in grim remonstrance—

eyes red, beard beginning, I’m Narcissus’

ugly brother, the one who traveled as far

from water as he could. She’s dead to me.

That much I knew when she slipped from my arms

to listen for the cries of the hunter.

And I must die in this muddy river.

One more time I will summon her, that

they may say of me I loved her to the last.

The miller’s daughter, let me remember…

a girl who shone, whose eyes slew devils,

who loved me briefly. But suddenly

the maid of the mill is laughable; I see her

pinched-up eyes inspecting the hunter’s

clothing, I see them coupling in a haystack far

from her father, and I cannot drown. It is the maid

I loved who’s dead; I am free to go. No longer

will I throw my heart into songs that

send her heavenward; I will sing of snow,

of fish, of other things. My faded

miller’s slut, I whisper into your ears

this final time the fact that will

reduce you to whorish nothings:

hunters cannot rhyme. The lindens

will be my loves from this day forward,

the river, my goddess; with washed eyes

I will rise from this sluggish bed

where late I moaned and cried. And wander!

from Silver RosesFind it in the library

Copyright © Persea Books 2010
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Persea Books.

Published in Poems Rachel Wetzsteon

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