Midsummer Night's Wake

by Beate Sigriddaughter


Nothing has died
except my cancerous ambition.


I stay awake at the window
through the last glimmer of light
though it is not clear
when it comes. Eventually it is mostly dark
except for the glow of the village below.
I have vowed to honor each last
nuance of shimmer, and if it is no longer
the sun but the town instead, I will
honor that too.

I have been betrayed,
cheated of some of the best moments
of my life so far. I promise to change this,
not myself, no, but the constant
harshness of conformity.

I listen to sweet music as I honor the light.
Later I will not remember what that music is.
It is pretty, but not as important
as the pulse of my soul. My love
is important, my yearning, the exact love
I've let myself be talked out of
in the name of respectability.


It was the longest day
of the year.

I think of my first love who once wrote
in a letter: "This young man did well for
himself," as he got honors, but also betrayals
from a world that praised his intellect and
claimed his body for war.

I too have done well in your world, my love,
I played quite well in it, only I never
belonged. And perhaps you did not
either as your body crumpled around
your astonishing brain.

I'm determined to walk home now,
limping a little from all the falseness,
all the breaking.


Believe me, when something
miraculous happens, like a sip
of champagne or a forget-me-not
among the roses, don't try to repeat it.
Simply bow to miracles.
Savor them as I savor the light.

I remember spending other
midsummer nights staying late
at the office, collating last minute
FedExes for the bottom line.

I will no longer be betrayed.
At least not voluntarily. At least
not for praise or overtime pay.


I am not Athena, sprung
from Daddy's brain. Or am I?
With my fears, my fairness, my

I am not Cassandra, praying
to Athena in vain: Shelter me, don't let him
drag me away to be raped, don't,
oh, goddess, don't let this last piece
of humiliation of all that is life happen
to me.
            Or am I? Dragged out
into the rat race as fodder for
immeasurable greed.

I am both and neither, sitting crouched
in the corner, huddled around
the sorrow of my soul.

I cannot promise that you will
not again be betrayed, my soul,
but I promise the one betraying you
from here on out will not be me.

I will be the one sheltering you, doing
my best, building higher sanctuary walls,
if necessary, telling you it is all right, for I
will cradle you through the last glimmer of light,
through the last flicker of life
with a fox's vast talent for invisibility
despite its great beauty.

If anyone sees you, it will be someone
who knows or yearns to know
how to love, how to treasure
the great romance of life.