March 26, 2023

Tyrolean Hills

for S.W. de Rachewiltz

All morning we looped up, you on practiced, sturdy legs
until near noon we found a farmhouse sunk in grass,
center black from gypsy fires. Beneath its ruined eaves

we ate hard-boiled eggs with salt— a prince’s lunch.
Eggshell mosaics fell into a mossy rain-made trough.
Close by, a church without a roof. I ventured over,

felt on rough discolored plaster the ridges left
where riser, tread, once took whoever’d come
to ring the bell up through a painted heaven.

Scion of cracked genius, adept at four languages,
how much you never said. At twenty you had gravitas.
I knew nothing— conjured castles, vellum, vineyards,

espaliered fruit trees, and how exquisitely
I’d devote myself to you. In late cool afternoon
we circled down. I watched shadows pass like water

through the wood, I changed the shadows into children,
heard them shriek and run from kisses, watched them
fade back into the trees, till rubber-legged around

that last steep bend I went and at the bottom, waiting,
there you were, sober, solid, you were settled as a judge.