Decades back, and darkness falling.
Puddles of dew had assembled themselves
In a doomed but vivid community
Across the field we gazed at below.
The puddles winked and sassed at the sun,
Half drowned behind the hill by now.
Phoebus, the ancients called that planet,
Nearly sunk by now to his mockers’ level.
That evening all these decades ago –
We looked from a hilltop as village bells
Seemed to mix mild reproof with the last sounds of daytime:
Muted jay-squawk, prattle of doves.
I imagined hoboes stopping to listen.
Why hoboes? Search me. They were called that then.
I can’t explain why I felt observed
As we started our downward amble toward home.
Some stringency had lingered forever
Just underneath my apprehension,
As if my dead mother still meant to reproach me.
I’d always sought to look defiant
And carefree, but parenthood would challenge
The pose again. Those scattered dew-cups
Had briefly shone brilliant, then vanished forever.
Wild-drunk on twilight’s cooling air,
They’d hurled their jeers at Phoebus, who’d rise
Come morning again, and he’d be angry.
You’d soon rise too from bearing a son,
Though we weren’t yet aware that’s whom we’d be greeting.
I fancied the dew-pools facing judgment.
Me too: As I say, I’d somehow felt watched –
As perhaps I’d been, and have been since.
Even all these years later, I have scant way of knowing.