I would have said I was too sensible for love at first sight,
but you arrived, so closely followed by a tsunami and a quake,
that we both went tumbling headlong into that bright abyss.
After that first moment, my feet never touched the ground.
For an endless time we talked with words and light, quick touches,
and we never once acknowledged what was really happening.
So, the question is, what’s happening and why is it happening
to us? In the geology of life is there never a stable site?
Can I be so easily thrown by your voice, your laugh, your touch?
I thought I’d reached an age when these unanticipated quakes
are expected to have died down. I believed that my inner ground
of being had stabilized, and I couldn’t be thrown into that abyss.
A finger smooths my windblown hair. A quick kiss opens the abyss
landing on the edge of my smile instead of my cheek. What’s happened?
Nothing! Oh, no? Your hand steadies me as we walk on rough ground.
A casual arm round my shoulder shelters me from sea winds. Insight
is dizzying; insight is banned. This land was made by volcanic quakes.
I can feel them still deep in my bones — an eons-old echoing touch.
There is peril here for human hearts, no matter how sweet the touch.
Between stars or lurking beneath an unwary heart, wide is the abyss
where invisible Powers move like tsunamis sent by undersea quakes.
Unseen, the Powers rock balances. Something subtle is happening.
Why had I no warning of this? Not even the slightest foresight?
The earth is a sphere – we may fall off this tree-covered ground
and rise up in the endless void, while the Gaia beneath us is ground
between Helios and Selene by light. We are transformed by the touch
of Blind Eros, absurd with his tiny bow, who draws back, takes sight –
fires a dart meant only for gods, but hitting human hearts. The abyss
is the only place vast enough for his victims. His dart just happens
to hit like a comet. I feel like Gaia — roughly shattered by quakes,
pressured, and turned to diamond where radiance shivers and quakes.
No light fancy this – something deeper is running under the ground,
potent and perilous as wine of the gods. This didn’t just happen
but was planned long ago. Ecstasy moves closer in these touches
as we fall, scintillating and burning in the center of the abyss.
Closing eyes doesn’t help; there are no eyes here — only clear sight.
Is this then what is called love at first sight? The Earth quaking,
the opening abyss, and something perilous moving under the ground?
In the most fleeting of touches, ecstasy rises. Love is happening.
A sestina. Copyright © 2000 by Jessica Macbeth. All rights reserved.