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!
Copyright © Persea Books 2010
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on behalf of Persea Books.