Camera Obscura


IT WAS beyond sundown: the last opal light was going out of the sky,
The last mallet had clicked the croquet ball through the wicket,
The dew was already chilling on the grass, and the players on the lawn
Departing laughingly, leaving the dusk to the first star, the lone ringing cricket.

And suddenly you felt it: the clear awful chill of time previewed:
An evening two decades hence when death would have leveled some of the players,
And a child’s sharp terrible sense of loneliness and age; and you fled,
Running toward the lighted windows beyond the lilacs, and the comfort of stairs.
And now abruptly (forgotten so long) the film of time is rewound:
You are standing here in the garden with the evening news, and your hand shaking,
Trying to recall something said twenty years ago; but the windows are dark now,
The cricket stilled, and you know this is no dream and that there will be no waking.