After the night of pain
you did your vanishing act,
Dolores—I didn’t see you again
through all that winter of war.

Those “white and heavy limbs”
on which my own would rest
after our lust had run its course
withdrew into the chill

of far New England towns
from which as winter waned
you sent your fitful messages,
obscure and menacing.

“There’ll never be an end!”
“I need the pain you bring me.”
“I’ll come to you once more, and kneel—
and you’ll be mine for ever.”

Black ink on pale mauve paper
your bold and spidery hand …
The words cut deep as they were meant,
they left a bitter yearning,

yet I withheld reply
and let the pain absorb trusting
that when those wounds had healed
I’d still be unforgiving.

You weren’t quite divine,
you see, for all your beauty,
for all that marbled reticence
masking the inner fires—

not yet a perfect idol
despite your cold eyelids
and brazen cruelty of gaze—
no, I could not concede it,

but glimpsed you in my dreams
as a frail puppet-thing
with eyes like dead-bright moons, stumbling
alone down endless vistas …

And so when next we met,
one pale midsummer night,
I kissed you once and set you free
in that new wilderness.

Frederick Morgan

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 10 Number 1, on page 125
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