What hero can out-glory the Byronic?
The errant knight, e'er restless to forget
His weariness of soul; by turns sardonic,
Despairing, raptured, stormy, passionate...
My champion is a different hero yet,
Bearing a king's name, one that mirrors true
The whiteness of his soul. His heart is set
High as his visions, but is cheerful too,
Light with a gentleness no Byron ever knew.


—Such were my thoughts, what seems like long ago.
I sit with Byron now, and try to will
My loneliness away; but I am so
Alone—no wraith of Don Juan can fill
This longing. Leaning on the windowsill,
And gazing, lost, I let the volume fall.
My mood reflects the sky, pensive and still,
A nacreous grey that casts a snowy pall
Over the afternoon; and still, he does not call.


He always kept a distance. I would stand
For hours just to hold him, too afraid
To break the spell, lest he should comprehend
That he was kissing me, and run away...
Men starve for want of food, or suffocate
For air. But I could die for want of touch,
Of being cherished; I can live this way
No longer, in such isolation, such
Reserve. To ask that cannot be to ask too much.


My mother came to Boston in the fall.
We wandered in the Public Garden for
A golden afternoon... but I recall
Her sadness deepening as we drew toward
The train at dusk, until her heartache poured
Forth with a burden old: "I just donšt know
Whether your father loves me anymore!"
I clung to her, and long we stood there so,
Amid the swelling traffic, in the streetlamps' glow.


I wander in the January street,
Restless, alone. The moon above is bright
And distant. In the face of my defeat,
I long to dare, to change; the time is right.
—My hair, I think, and stay up half the night
Working a spell of auburn... yet the end
Brings not one shade of difference. I fight
A smile at the futility. What then
Can change? I still must love, however I pretend.


He reads the slightest flicker of my thought;
Yet I have thoughts he chooses not to guess.
My touch is seeming innocent, but fraught
With meaning: I am stealing a caress,
The only furtive way I can express
My deepest heart. One precious night, he slept
Lightly within my arms; the tenderness
That welled up nearly drowned me. But I kept
It back. To have him close, the rest I would accept.


Of course I covet what is hers: his fond
Embrace, his whispered words, his tender glance.
Yet more than these, I envy her the bond
She shares with him: no passion-wracked romance,
But constant love. I never had a chance!
That love eludes my grasp as my control;
While she can reach to him in confidence
And know herself enveloped in the whole
Force of his conscious being—body, mind, and soul.

February-August 1990

Copyright ©1986, 1999 by Erica Schultz Yakovetz. All rights reserved.
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