The late sun burning close, and slow waves coming in—

the sea’s mysterious lit wine of touch

on the sand, slipping away glittering

in scattered glasslike grains for an instant,

and returning again; if we belong

to each other, we belong to that touch.

Then suddenly the sun is gone; the sky

is a dark purple darkening to black.

Those sky deities appear, those bright ones

inexorably performing their fixed

and millennia-old roles said to rule a life—

glints, coruscations, crushed glare-origins

within abundant rich clusters of grapes

spreading throughout the night’s summer vineyard.

There are the never-beheld-before stars,

we wish we could say rightly and at last,

when we know even the closest we see

had to have been born more than long ago,

and the farthest born and died before that.

But since the light is the way we see light,

it must be travelling in a heaven

of more than our memory will allow,

where we ourselves might see how no person

or thing or love is ever gone, but visible,

and forever new, in light, and in us,

where light is always turning, flower-like,

opening and closing and opening.

We build a fire which will repeat at night

what the sun did during the day; the sparks

fly off and disappear the way the stars

will seem to disappear tomorrow in the sun.

The body is the wine-flask and the wine;

the lover is the veil on the beloved’s face.

And what we hide within, and hides from us

through all our hours of light, seems dark, and yet,

now in the dark as in the one centre

of the fusions that are stars, is pure time,

when the bodies we are wake in their day,

and we taste that day’s wine, that endless beginning

of nameless fate, when we give ourselves up

to our lives, and enter another life.


Russell Thornton is a Canadian poet based in Vancouver, British Columbia. He has published several books and chapbooks, most recently, House Built of Rain (Harbour Publishing, 2003).

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