In fields where the late light lingers
I can just see the last wild roses
spangling the vetch and Johnson grass.
Is someone walking there, bending
to take in their lightest breath?
Is it a girl in a blue-white dress?
Even now the moon is rising
like a blade above the hills. Sharp
cries of nighthawks circle the depths
of sky’s jewel box and the edge of day
rings down its shade.
Am I there? When I open the door
would praise be out of place
or out of time?
The girl walks toward me now, filled
with the sweetness of evening
and I think, for a moment, I will forgive myself
and not take her hand
and not bow as the mist
and not embrace her as she rises perilous
beyond the single left-hand glove
of memory and grass.
But denial saves no one, they say.
Whatever I am not
or do not do
hangs like an old coat in a house
where the girl in the white dress lived
and died centuries ago
or centuries hence. Where
does the world cease to be itself
and become our longing for it?
Where is the girl in white?
If I close my eyes and breathe
approaching night, she enters me and roses
glow like candles in a huge dark room.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.