edward lilley

A Wild Heart Returned - Poem by edward lilley

Night began with the faint hoarse thrump of the bullfrogs
Calling from the edge of the pond.
Rising up, and swelling louder through the fog
No stars
Cool air rolling down out of the pines
To the edge of the meadow
Hissing as it met the heat
Making mist
Rising up
Bringing the earth’s breath with it.
No words spoken between us
All was meadow, path
And wading down
Deeper into the steaming grass
The incense of it sliding up on us like silky water of a lake.
Taking my will away.
Pulling us down into the sweetness of woodruff
Queen Anne’s Lace tying us at the knees
And the tongue-pink bloom of milkweed licking at us
Breaking all the rules.
And oh, the swelling and the pressing of the sound.
Buzzes, chirps
Groans and screeches
Open throat and rasping wing
Wailing endless verses of some mad song.

That night took us prisoner.
There in the middle of the deer path
Pressing down on me
Lifting you up
Lost in the scream of crickets
Pulling it out of you
Coming up behind me
Letting you push farther down the path of me
than anyone one had ever let me go.
Holding it in.
Holding on as long as I could
To the end of a chorus
Letting go
And falling
Falling down and gushing
Spilling out the laughter
Leaving tears on your belly
And your heart beside me in the path.

Then there was silence
And the moon came out and caught us
Naked and shivering
Newborns in a grassy nest.
Silence broken by the fierce snort and thumping of a buck
Indignant that we had blocked his path to water.
We ran the whole dark way to the house.
You out ahead of me, carrying my heart in your pocket.
Your heart lost in the meadow.
And that was long ago.

I awoke this morning, knowing I had dreamed of you again.
The faint smell of milkweed on my pillow.
Two weeks from your birthday
And I knew it was time to head out into February
To see what treasures had made it through the tyranny of years, ice and wind.

Bundled in layers of woolen armor
I made my way through barbed wire
Melting drifts of snow
And the blood red rip of briars to find that spot
A path still used by foxes, deer and lovers on their way to water.
This bouquet is made of all that was left still standing.
Dried bearded wheat, golden rod and pearly everlasting.
Here are the guts and bones from the center of a sacred winter meadow.
Breathe them in.
One summer night is still alive in these remains.
I found them still standing
The empty pods of milkweed filling up with snow.
Bring them close.
And you can hear the waves of cricket song and night birds.
I have brought you back your heart
Curled in the wrinkled fingers of scrub grass and scarlet leaves.

Here there are wishes still alive
Promises kept
And seeds attached to silken wings so strong
They can ride on the back of hurricanes
And still not die.
Not die, but drift down to some warm and welcoming spot
Where they can send out roots
Grow heart-high beside a path
And bloom in the fog on the hottest night of summer.

You left your heart on a deer path.
And I went back to find it.
It is here, bound together with binders twine
In the midst of treasure.
I have carried it all this way
To celebrate this day with you
To untie knots,
Give you back what I had briefly borrowed.
Not mine, but yours to keep.

Here is your heart.
Born again
Filled with fresh snow
New paths
Sea foam and mercury
Bowers to hide in
High limbs to shout from
Love songs ready to burst out in all directions
And warm arms waiting!

Happy Birthday!

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Poem Edited: Wednesday, July 21, 2010

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