Readings in Contemporary Poetry

Frank Bidart


(John of the Cross)

 In a dark night, when the light
    burning was the burning of love (fortuitous
    night, fated, free,--)
    as I stole from my dark house, dark
    house that was silent, grave, sleeping,--
 by the staircase that was secret, hidden,
    safe: disguised by darkness (fortuitous
    night, fated, free,--)
    by darkness and by cunning, dark
    house that was silent, grave, sleeping--;
 in that sweet night, secret, seen by
    no one and seeing
    nothing, my only light or
    the burning in my burning heart,
 night was the guide
    to the place where he for whom I
    waited, whom I had long ago chosen,
    waits: night
    brighter than noon, in which none can see--;
night was the guide
    sweeter than the sun raw at
    dawn, for there the burning bridegroom is
    and he who chose at last is chosen.

As he lay sleeping on my sleepless
    breast, kept from the beginning for him
    alone, lying on the gift I gave
    as the restless
    fragrant cedars moved the restless winds,--
winds from the circling parapet circling
    us as I lay there touching and lifting his hair,--
    with his sovereign hand, he
    wounded my neck-
    and my senses, when they touched that, touched nothing...
In a dark night	(there where I
    lost myself,--) as I leaned to rest
	in his smooth white breast, everything
	and left me, forgotten in the grave of forgotten lilies.

© 1987 Frank Bidart