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A Young Woman to Her Older Lover

by Ken Harnisch


I may longer be soft and yielding loam for your wild seed
But though tamed, I am not yet broken.
In the shadows where my yearnings go, there
Is a door to which no one else but you will
Ever have the key. Take that with you as you
Retire memories of me, which I hope you’ll do
With the quiet grace that made me love you
Then, the way I’ll always do.

I know you fear the onslaught of age
And point to lines and folds in the skin
Where my fingers painted you in such
A brazen light, and colors warm and effervescent.

Perhaps you will one day wither from sight and mind
But it is not this day, or the next, so don’t be that
Afraid of decrepitude as if it were your birthright
Come ‘round at last like some unwelcome relative
Turning an overnight into a long-term stay

You apprehend your mortality, while I
Smile and remember that in your embrace
You proved more than once to me you
Were a man of such vitality that a number
Tacked after your name will never
Subjugate the passions that we shared.

Were I of another place or time, our love letters,
Twined in crimson silk, would prevail for centuries
Hence and someone, curious, would stand amazed
To know the fires that we lit among the trees

You, an oak, mature and strong, beside a willow,
Young and supple, who basked willingly
In both sun and shade to know and learn from you
Then shaped her image of love on all
The things you said and did, and wrung from you
Much more than those who follow you could ever know

I am vanishing now from your sight and mind
Not because I need to run, but because
I must now turn my poetry into the prose
Of domesticity. He is a good man, a kind one,
One with whom I can find that peace of mind
That I begged from you with tear-stained eyes

Where we lay, and when, and how unvexed
I always was while sinning in your arms
Will be part of my unwritten song.
I may tell an inquiring daughter some
Years from now that her mother
Was more than the sum of skin and hair
She gazed upon in yellowing photographs
But the name of her deliverer and saint
Will remain a secret I shall never share

I ask only this:
Go lightly, and go with my heart
And if you have any cause at all
To love me still, be not so quick to
Give yourself away to someone new.

04/09/2015

Posted on 04/09/2015
Copyright © 2021 Ken Harnisch

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