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Two Ladies

ISSUE:  Winter 1995

The blacktop here, the way it curves
between the rows of maples over the half-mown meadow
past the pond, is beautiful, I tell houseguests,
and people nod, which only tweaks my urge
to say what moves me, now especially, during the hour
before sunset, when the light and shadow
on the maple trunks, and on the twin birch
where the road bends, gleam with an inexplicable power. Leaning here, you feel bark crumble
into your palm, smell mown grass in the exhaust,
hawk, spit, step one step sideways,
and the cosmos comes in from another angle.
It’s too much! Light
delves into a clump of white snakeroot,
and the Beauty blazing into thought
feels, somehow, indeterminate,
although the mower blade says,
always, and precisely “This!”
Five hundred years ago, I saw two ladies
standing in the prow of a unmanned wherry. The soul
in armor stepped aboard. “Good journey to you all!”
I said, and Beauty gazed into the bottom of the lake,
hands folded together on Her low, round stomach.
The darker Lady looked at the armored soul
as if She were about to smile,
and the boat steered toward the invisible island.


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