Alice O. Howell   




Love me, says the amber child
hazel-eyed and acorn-breasted
leafy-haired, springing up
away from the colonnade of tree trunks
hall into darkness
wild and silent woods
into the dim past
ringing to senses primeval.

My hands grope, stained by sunlight
like a shaft of blood
and the green vacuum of time waits
 filled with little furry beasts
scampering into holes
to the dark bracken of past impression.

I do, I tell her, I do.
I did once when the world was young
and my beard ungrown -
when my skin was sweet as yours
we lay by the pools
dipping fingers in moonlight
drinking our kisses , the stars beneath us.

You laughed and the heron
flew up into the morning.
I left my first spear in the moss behind you
a tree now
over the waters of longing.
And because I left you
disarmed by passion
seedless and cold
I fell into the deathbear's arms
and did not care.
You buried me a hundred times
in a thousand cycles of the sun --
corn in the clearing grew from my skull
and fed our children's children.
* * *

Love me, says the amber child,
golden-flecked and acorn-breasted --

I shake my head and snap the back
with my boot of a branch
down the road a truck sounds
far away grey
I am holding a gun got
from the multicolored catalog
at the office.
I cannot reach to you anymore!
it is embarrassing
to a hunter from another time

a contesseration
of leaves golden falling
in the autumn wind
is what you are.
I am real and now afraid
to believe.
I know, says the amber child:
the rains are sighing
beyond the black hills
singing the hurt of the world
without you
I know, she says simply
a final winter is coming
and you, hunter, become the prey
yourself without magic
you will bring death to the dead
in your hearing.

Later at the campfire
the coffee tasted bitter
and my heart swollen
with forgotten faith.

a.o. howell