Ice Castles (A Lady's Lament)

(an impression on hearing Scriabin's Poem of Ecstasy)

Crystal spires
Translucent in the white
Winter light
Of another arctic noon.
A dream
Pacing polished steps in glassy halls, I
Glide among frost-carved nymphs
And fountains of moonwhite chill
Musing on his name:
A crystalline tinkle of chimes, a
Whisper of wind through clouds.
And there!
His departed image rises
Like mist over a frozen lake when the night is warm
And the moon hangs low and full on the far shore.
We walk together as in dreams:
Two kindred gusts skimming the fluff of clouds,
Laughter of breezes dancing on the sunny tops of trees.
And then he's gone;
A sudden fluttering of dark wings and the sharp
Caw of a crow
Tears the quiet veil,
And the delicate fabric of prayer and dream is rent on the loom:
My dying, dying swan hopes
Fading as the world dissolves into phantasmagoria.

My world is an airy ruse,
Haunted playground of lost songs;
My heart, a frigid grotto of memories;
My life
A thing of ecstasy and horror.
As I look out on the sea,
I glimpse the star of his ardor
Sinking in crimson waters,
And in the fading light
The surf is awash with the shimmer of bones,
Chattering, hurling hisses over the parapet
Where I stand, transfixed in gloom.
"Dream on, old woman!
Of warmth and springtime
Dream! The thrush is dead,
Entombed in Siberian snowdrifts. And we have drowned
The sun!"

Still, I will wait.

I will walk alone
Through barren rooms,
Through the routed gardens of my palace,
Drifting like a dream
Among sculpted ice-figures,
Gliding like a ballet swan
Over the glass of mythic waters,
My breaths
Pallid mist to shroud me from prying eyes,
My tears
Glittering beads I shall keep in a bowl for him.
Mounting the highest tower,
I will keep vigil for him,
Pacing as the great clock summons the hours
With leaden strokes.
I shall wait until I see him rising
Again over the hills.
When he comes,
Golden and flaming,
Hot with the thirst of spring,
I shall be naked and glowing
Like the moon come to meet her secret lover.
When he takes me,
I shall melt in his arms,
Dissolve into glorious nothing
In the fever of his caress.

George Chadderdon © 2000