The Stream Flowing
I remember the creek that ran beside the golf
slow and black over rocks; patches of snow;
withies of willow streaming out in the wind,
born to it and, I imagine, bowing and scraping.
I would sometimes sit there shivering and
at the flagless frostbitten greens, the naked
that bordered the bleak fairways and a sky
the ashen color of longing and disappointment.
Early winter, it was. And then I remember
the girl I brought there one night—the summer
We lay deep on the grassy bank, almost hidden,
and I touched her warm secret hair for the first
I can still hear the sound of water pushing by
the sound of her breath in my ear as I touched
my stiff boyish hand trembling against her
Her name was June. I could feel a pulse where I
There were little lights in the breathing
darkness around us.
Her eyes were closed and I was looking past her
at nameless summer stars and pulsing fireflies
and what must have been houses far off in the
Nothing else happened there. We were afraid,
and lay in the matted crush of the maidenhair
and chilly rivergrass. We could smell the night
and see the willow cascading over our heads.
I remember the last time I went there, alone and
three or four winters later. The clear water
was still flowing, now between snow-covered
and white fields stretched away to the hem of
One day melts into another and into years,
twenty years that flowed on and lost themselves
in the sea.
Where is June, and the boy that she held to her
on that bank once? Well, useless to think of
and useless to think of the boy, by now a man—
each with a husband or wife, in a house far off
in the midst of another life, where I remember
the fern verging that stream and the stream
Collected Poems: 1952-1999, University of
2000. Reprinted by permission of the author.