She rose pale and spotted with nipples and eyes,
moored by her hands to the gate of lies,
she stood wordless in the rocking boat
what she could not say was stuck in her throat.
He reached bloody hands to the sun and gripped
and squeezed the ball till it spurted and dripped,
and silver lights dribbled on the bay:
all of her strength was drabbled away.
“All this is mine, the sun and the sin,
breast and feather and beak and skin:
all this is mine, mine to collect
mine to eat up, mine to infect,”
-- he boasted, and yet could not cross the water
and it came suddenly to the Stream's daughter
that for all of it, he was afraid of her,
afraid of the water, afraid of the stir
and fret of the knotting waves;
afraid of the tide that sucks into caves,
afraid of the mouths that fasten by night
over the eyes and the candlelight.
Unseen in the darkness that spun
out of the wounded, withering sun
a sparrow flickered against the gate,
and the sparrow said to her only, “wait.”
His feet clutched the slimy rock,
he waded forward and the shock
of cold water hurt his mind;
cold water unconfined
ate into his ankles and knees;
his calves and thighs began to freeze.
I only wanted to love you, he said
and from out of his trembling head
came rivers of crawling and biting things
twitching with mandibles and stings;
they poured like tears from his nose and eyes,
terrified by the water's rise.
Blinded and emptied he sank
and the water boiled for a time and stank
and still the sparrow at the gate
whispered only, “Wait. Wait.”
The water grew still and then
suddenly it moved again:
lights were flickering there below
fish made of sundrops began to glow
and swirled into a net of light:
They rose together, silver bright,
and the sparrow said “soon,”
and soon up rose the glimmering moon.
Oh my darling, come to shore,
clothe yourself, and fear no more,
The night is marked now by the sacred rune
of the fishy, silver, glimmering moon.