“When last we met”

When last we met upon a level floor,
We shared an hour’s nearly-every dance,
Then, at that break, I paused to catch my breath,
Only to turn again and find you gone.
Because I glimpsed you twice those next few days,
I trust you did not vanish Underhill,
And that you are kept safe within God’s hand.

But still, I cannot help but linger here
As if you were a captive of the elves—
For legends say that once or twice a year
The prisoners within the hollow hills
Come forth to dance one timeless dance again,
And may be saved from fey captivity
By shining steel or music’s silver sounds,
So I might once more proudly take your hand
And lead with you through all a dance’s steps.

Because I have, lamentably, forgotten
Both your name—you’ve told me at least twice—
And even, more than half the time, your face
(though that bright visage seems, from time to time,
To float before me, to my great delight,
In my mind’s eye like distant morning fog,
Only to vanish like that mist at dawn),
Not even leaving shadows of your smile,
I wait in breathless hope for one more chance
To reconnect, to learn (again) your name,
To strengthen our acquaintance past this floor
And past these fairgrounds and this festival.

To my surprise—despair—you vanished once;
Henceforth I live in absent-minded hope
You will some day, to my surprise, appear.

I wrote most of this a couple of weeks ago, at Evart, thinking again of the experiences that prompted my earlier poems “A Summer’s Evening”, “A Bittersweet Farewell”, and “Fleeting visage”. And my mind wandered into the fantastical. I finished and revised it over the next couple of weeks.

As always, I earnestly welcome your (further) comments, suggestions (perhaps of a real title for this?), questions, critique, or other feedback about this or any other part of my work. (In other words, if you liked this poem, or you didn’t like it, or it made you think of something, or … please leave a comment to let me know.) If you liked this, you can follow this blog, which includes one of my poems every Friday, or read other poems I’ve written here on my blog (perhaps starting with those linked from one of the “archive ” installments, since the full archive is by now, at well over a hundred poems, somewhat daunting); I’d especially like to know, as part of my preparations for a collection, which poems you think are my best. You may also share this poem with others, subject to my sharing policy.

This poem is also mirrored on my wiki.


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