A Public Sphere for Poetry, Nature, and Politics
When the men come down to the water
they are ghosts, you can see
their sorrow beneath the skin.
They come down slowly, stumbling
not looking where they put their feet.
The women stand in the lake
washing themselves, wringing
long ropes of water from their hair.
The men come closer but the women
do not turn around to greet them.
The men begin their faint singing
inaudible above the chatter of the women.
The men begin to pull at their clothes,
pulling them off over their heads,
standing on one leg to drop loincloths.
The men say, We were away
for a long time, do you remember us?
We’ve been in the land of things men do,
things the snake coiled
at the base of the skull bade us do.
Things you do not want to know.
We hate these things
as we hate illness and what good
would it be to tell you?
The women turn, one by one, to greet them.
We do not care, the women say.
While you’ve been away we’ve been
growing our hearts.
They can contain everything, even you.
We’ve been listening to the earth tell us,
The men will come back.
They will come back without their swords.
They will come home to you in silence.
Their throats are raw from the shouting.
Their beards clotted with blood.
They will come back where the deep spring rises.
And as you bathe them the blood will come back
into their spectral faces and they will be whole.
copyright 2015 Doug Anderson