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by Alan Shapiro

for Callie

The look this child looks out with from
among the rose bushes and primroses
and other flowers not visible
enough to name is somehow bound
up with the way the dense thicket

of vines and leaf clusters have woven
all through and over the now mostly
hidden fence to frame the child’s
face in a profusion of leaves
and blossoms—the look more beautiful

because it doesn’t know it is,
because it holds now no expression
beyond this one of being held there
fast among the open faced
frank petals in the early evening.

It is the same look I have seen
on your face, love, there in the just-
before of our intensest pleasure,
there as your face turns toward my face
though not with gratitude exactly,

but just to show me with a child’s
candor that you are there again,
for a moment, in the early evening,
among the leaves and flowers crossed
with shadows of leaves and flowers, there

where it’s now only your own desire
for sleep that calls to you from the house
to come inside. I think the look
is asking how unthinkable it is
that you could ever not be happy.


Alan Shapiro’s most recent book of poems, Song and Dance, was published by Houghton Mifflin in 2002. His translation of The Oresteia by Aeschylus will be published by Oxford in 2003. (5/03)

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