Where the light spoke a star
Shone through the portal and was gone.
My brain clouded with tears; I had forgotten
To ask her of the way back to life.
Then I remembered that a shade
Had stepped between us,
The blinded foreigner from Thebes
Who stood as if a tree grew at my side;
I heard the sound of leaves above my head,
And saw a black bough pointed east.
Perhaps my escape
Was almost fortuitous. And now at winter's midnight
The Dead are here whispering through snow;
They crowd upon me
Between walls of a room or in a quiet street:
"Mea culpa, mea culpa," from earth or ceiling,
"The fault is our fault, mea culpa, we are to blame,
We are wanderers of Hell in every city,
The faithless, the unloved.
If at the last turn of the wheel in Heaven
The first cause of our fate is in the stars,
We shall wait for you behind an open door
And in your shadow as you walk the stairs."
A Song of Breath
I heard the song of breath
Go up from city and country,
The even breath of the sleeper,
The tired breath of the sick,
The dry cough in the throat
Of the man with the death-sweat on him,
And the quiet monotone
We breathe but do not hear.