Etta,1958 - Poem by STANLEY PACION
He had twisted his ankle.
His foot was swollen and it ached,
Hurt him to the degree that he could no longer concentrate.
He had lost the capacity to figure.
His mind no longer able to grasp even very simple things,
His eyes appeared vacant, as if in a trance.
He was young and he kissed the back of her hand,
He kissed her about the face,
He kissed her eyelids,
And he rested his lips at the base of her neck.
He had kissed the skin all-over both her shoulders.
He and she were minors, and their ardency,
Its possible consequence worried their parents.
There was no question about the boy being strong.
Within the warmth of a late August, summer night,
The couple walked hand in hand along a dirt path.
They followed a trail along side truck-farm fields,
Alternate tracts of cabbage and corn,
Which then became a shortcut,
A line through an expanse of crabgrass scrub.
The land rose a few inches,
Slightly above the counter-sunk, worn-earth channel,
Suggesting a beaten path, a safe passage,
Perhaps once a native American footway,
Of an age older than most would dream.
They headed toward an old Dutch Elm.
The tree grew beside the muddy bank of a creek,
Whose occasional flow emptied west into a river,
A river the early French settlers had named Des Plaines.
They thought that they might sail away upon the waters.
The Milky Way seemed to stretch out across
The vault of deep space more like some
Will-o-wisp patch of terrestrial weather
Than the starry edge of our own galaxy.
Yet more, much more than the taste of salt -
The tiny sweat above her brows, more than how
Moisture had collected and now had formed
Fetchingly to glisten upon her shoulders,
It was a night whose such awesome, absolute clarity
Enhanced a once-in-a-life-time, white light streak,
At its end a mighty, bright flash erased the sky.
Though now near midnight, all nature cast a quick shadow.
The day's heat permeated the late summer evening.
They were standing before the great Dutch Elm,
The tree beside the muddy bank of the creek,
The small, occasional water emptying west into the river,
The river the early French settlers had named Des Plaines.
In a momentary all-over illumination,
The youths saw their silhouette.
They were merged as one.
They saw themselves fused into a single shade.
A snap of thunder followed, and, there, in the instant,
All of heavenly influence fell upon their embrace.
And when they turned and gazed upon each other,
Before either of them spoke a word,
They had come to believe that
In a book all their days had been written.
The verse which enfolds telling of this one moment
Had already been composed.
Though still no gathering of the waters into the seas,
Prior to Earth's becoming the name for dry land,
Likewise before the glory of first morning or first sun's set,
Even before the beginning when the Spirit of God
Announced light and illuminated the darkness,
They had been granted affection.
Before the beginning,
Before the Lord brought into being
The blazing brilliance across the infinite deep,
And called it good,
They had been blessed with ever grateful remembrance.
This one moment had already been written.
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