I miss that corridor drenched in shadow,
sweat of centuries steeped into stone.
After the plunge, after my shrieks
diminished and his oars sighed
up to the smoking shore,
the bulwark's gray pallor soothed me.
Even the columns seemed kind, their murky sheen
like lustrous skin of roving eye.
I used to stand at the top of the stair
where the carpet flung down
its extravagant hearth. Flames
teased the lake into glimmering licks.
I could pretend to be above the earth
rather than underground: a Venetian
palazzo or misty chalet tucked into
an Alp, that mixture of comfort
and gloom . . . nothing was simpler
to imagine. But it was more difficult
each evening to descend: all that marble
flayed with the red plush of priviledge
I traveled on, slow nautilus
unwinding in terrified splendor
to where he knew to meet me–
my consort, my match,
though much older and sadder.
In time, I lost the capacity
for resolve. It was as if,
I had been traveling all these years
without a body,
until his hands found me–
and then there was just
the two of us forever:
one who wounded,
and one who served.
from Mother Love (New York: Northon & Co., © 1995 by Rita Dove). All rights reserved. Copying to other websites or any kind of reprint is a violation of international copyright laws and strictly forbidden.