by Theodore Roethke (1908-1963)
A cloud moved close. The bulk of the wind shifted.
A tree swayed over water.
A voice said:
Stay. Stay by the slip-ooze. Stay.
Dearest tree, I said, may I rest here?
A ripple made a soft reply.
I waited, alert as a dog.
The leech clinging to a stone waited;
And the crab, the quiet breather.
Slow, slow as a fish she came,
Slow as a fish coming forward,
Swaying in a long wave;
Her skirts not touching a leaf,
Her white arms reaching towards me.
She came without sound,
Without brushing the wet stones,
In the soft dark of early evening,
The wind in her hair,
The moon beginning.
I woke in the first of morning.
Staring at a tree, I felt the pulse of a stone.
Where’s she now, I kept saying.
Where’s she now, the mountain’s downy girl?
But the bright day had no answer.
A wind stirred in a web of appleworms;
The tree, the close willow, swayed.