Occasional Idyll


Sally Henzell

Originally published in The Evergreen Review Issue 100 in 1998.
into the green harmony of evening
slides obscure night

naked as a dove
she goes softly out
her toes translate
the hard packed earth
into a path
weaving through
skinny-armed trees
white waxen flowers
yellow by day
on soft mud banks
cold water
becoming stones
smooth as faces
the water giggling
round slim ankles
touch laughing fingers

a call
two notes like lights
like bright fire-flies in the night
an answering tone
long and high and trill

he watched the sunset
go down golden
and rise up a rose
replacing sky
with jubilations of mauve
and orange glinting fire
almonds coconuts the color of shade
on the coast

he contained the fire
and drew up the door
he thought of her skin
and stopped where he was
he took up a stick
and the dog rose to go
as he walked
he whistled a slow tune
and as he whistled

he wondered how the dry season
had been with her
he carried a blanket for her back
and a cloak
but when he thought of her nakedness
a sound rose in his throat

the moon was young and stoutish
like an adolescent pregnancy
his feet found the river easily
rose-apple hung overhead
and dropped her rose fruit in the water
the water rose and rinsed his skin
he remembered the long look
and his toes stopped on the rock
smooth as bottoms
he caught a glimpse of parachute silk
billowing from the castle of their love-making
his toes had become fiords and waterfalls
part rock part bower
they had woven it together
in an afternoon
staying two intense nights
and two bubbling festooned days
since then
they had returned
to other sacraments
when certain signs
convened in jasmine scented prisms
beckoning the heart
besides it was their way
of keeping the thing eternal
and their love forever cresting