Summer 1967

Summer brings out the girls in their green dresses

Whom the foolish might compare to daffodils,

Not seeing how a dead grandmother in each one governs her limbs,

Darkening the bright corolla, using her lips to speak through,

Or that a silver torque was woven out of

The roots of wet speargrass.


The young are mastered by the Dead,

Lacking cunning. But on the beaches, under the clean wind

That blows this way from the mountains of Peru,

Drunk with the wind and the silence, not moving an inch

As the surf-swimmers mount on yoked waves,

One can begin to shake with laughter,

Becoming oneself a metal Neptune.


To want nothing is

The only possible freedom. But I prefer to think of

An afternoon spent drinking rum and cloves

In a little bar, just after the rain had started, in another time

Before we began to die – the taste of boredom on the tongue

Easily dissolving, and the lights coming on –

With what company? I forget.


Where can we find the right

Herbs, drinks, bandages to cover

These lifelong intolerable wounds?

Herbs of oblivion, they lost their power to help us

The day that Aphrodite touched her mouth to ours.


James K Baxter

from Runes, 1973


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