'Private Worship'

- Mark Van Doren

She lay there in the stone folds of his life
Like a blue flower in granite - this he knew;
And knew how now inextricable the petals
Clung to the rock recessed beyond his hand-thrust;
More deeply in, past more forgotten windings
Than his rude tongue could utter, praising her.

He praised her with his eyes, beholding oddly
Not what another saw, but what she added -
Thinning today and shattering with a slow smile -
To the small flower within, to the saved secret.
She was not to have - except that something,
Always like petals falling, entered him.

She was not his to keep - except the brightness,
Flowing from her, that lived in him like dew;
And the kind flesh he could remember touching,
And the unconscious lips, and both her eyes:
These lay in him like leaves - beyond the last turn
Breathing the rocky darkness till it bloomed.

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