after Theodor Storm
This room the whole night
and baby Hobbin unhappy awake,
his mother's dress a drape
clung to, black and blown over
his midnight eyes. The close length
gathers and slips
off the high bed, down the far floor...
Stars above! His harried mother
holds Hobbin, his gown a bell lamp,
his lovely white face
a misery. Or she pushes him
in his pretty pram to and fro,
those shocked dolls
stiff on the pillow.
O Hobbin, sleep, sleep,
her long hands a quiet book
to show you how, apart
from all the clouds racing,
the moon stays still in the fading sky.
The whales and fishes were left,
and fine, tasting the trees,
threading through high windows
over tables and beds. Except
they were chased and eaten,
they lived on, chasing and eating.
Other vultures than the pair, glossy
from the last gulls, paced
and screamed on the bulkheads,
and fell away, but more than two
sparrows splintered inside
and shot the dark length.
Clouds for light
as the water closed.
A box of glazed paper was fitted
for me in the highest hold, where the snakes
piled and pulsed, where the wildest birds were shelved.
Ground glass my sand and swallow.
Spiders, uncounted and everyplace, watched, chased,
and wrung in string whole species of unparceled insects.
Halcyon dove alight
over the deepened shores,
the seaming rivers,
my fellow, mate became.
Later, with Rome begun
and again unforgiven,
the sky open clear to the planets,
night after night disappeared.