As soon as the cold old sun feels warm,
a powerful impulse says Lie down.
Down on a bench; in the lap of noon;
on the green bosom of a lawn;
down on a hillside, under a tree,
in mother’s absence. In or on,
horizontality’s all one.
Effaced each spring a little more
by being forty-two, three, four,
wrapped in invisibility,
I lie and look across the sky.
Near the horizon a streak of green
swells like a harbinger of dawn—
not green like new leaves everywhere,
rather a verdant atmosphere.
I tilt my face, luxuriate—
chin up and eyes shut—in the heat,
warmth that this year feels different.
Spring means all it ever meant,
but the earth where I lay my head
covers my two beloved dead.
They do not say “Forsake the sun.”
They say “We loved it, and we’re gone.”
That golden magnanimity!
Ten minutes is enough for me.
Opening my eyes, I readjust
my mind, eyes, body. For I must
gradually as in a dream
return to vertical again,
stand up and somehow move beyond
my buried mother, my buried friend.

Rachel Hadas

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 12 Number 8, on page 34
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