The Responses

by Thomas Davis

Now the responses, once fresh,
Are natural and automatic.
The moon still shines, a silver crystal
Polished and hardened into bright stone,
And the stars still glint alive
The dark, unknowable spaces between stars.
But the responses,
“I love you,” “yes, honey,” “Darling, Darling…”
Are like jackets worn too many times,
Old…familiar…and too comfortable
To be emotion.

I remember a night, late summer,
With stars crowding out the sky,
When I held you against an old wagon
Left resting in an empty, dark field.
You were warm and responsive,
But I was tense, filled with anger at words,
Struggling against commitment,
Against the flow of years that would flow after
In endless succession, endless time.

Then I spoke, afraid, bold,
Wild as a man playing marbles
With blazing, cateyed stars.
Then the universe expanded, exploded
Into a dance of darkness,
A celebration of silver and dark.
I reached out, became one with you,
Spirit, soul, body, and mind,
And threw away the sense of years
With responsibilities and commitments
And endless waiting on the flow of time.

Now the responses are familiar.
“I love you,” I said and meant it,
But the flood of emotion was a trickle,
An acknowledgement of the past
And the possible future
And those myriads of things said
And unsaid…

Are the years that dark?
So hideous in their alternations
Of good time, bad time, good, bad?
Is the waiting nearing an end?
A resolution of emptiness? Fullness?

You put on a yellow nightgown,
Shadowy curves through misty silk,
And I look from light into darkness
Strewn with the dim lights
Of silver stars and silver moon.

I look and see you running madly
In and out between the fiery suns
Of dim stars, brighter than stars,
Brighter than the stone smooth moon.

I put down this pen and wait…
For darkness…for the unraveling of hours.

The words are natural, cold with fire.
I have learned to handle suns
Without scorching flesh.


Filed under Poetry, Thomas Davis

4 responses to “The Responses

  1. Wow, Thomas! This is rich with layers and layers through time and emotion. “I have learned to handle suns / Without scorching flesh.” Again, Wow!!!

  2. Mature and masterful, Thomas.
    Clarity and honesty, clear-eyed.
    Strength, but not without a certain fragility.
    Acceptance, but not without a certain bitterness.

  3. Anna Mark

    Oh my, Thomas, oh my. What a poem.
    …cold with fire
    I have learned to handle suns
    without scorching flesh
    And the questions are riveting. This is wonderful. A love poem, a death poem, a life poem…I cannot read anymore poetry this evening. This one has me.

  4. Julie Catherine

    Wow is right, Thomas – this poem is brilliant, it took my breath away and brought tears to my eyes. I, too, love the line, “I have learned to handle suns without scorching flesh” … wow, one of those, “I wish I’d written that” lines. This has incredible depth and multiple layers, and your use of metaphor is exquisite. I am in awe of this poem. ~ Julie xox

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