“If no other direction can compell” by Marilyn Hacker

by R.C.

If no other direction can compell

me upward from the dark-before-the-dawn

descending spiral, I drop like a stone

flung into some scummed-over stagnant well.

The same momentum with which once we fell

across each other’s skies, meteors drawn

by lodestones taproots clutched in unmapped ground

propels me toward some amphibious hell

where kissing’s finished, and I tell, tell, tell

reasons as thick as frogspawn:

had I done this, that wouldn’t have come undone.

The wolf of wolf’s hour cried at once too often

picked out enfeebled stragglers by the smell

of pond scum drying on them in the sun.

– Marilyn Hacker, Love, Death, and the Changing of the Seasons (1986)