Thoughtfully he looked at her profile there,
Sensitive in the London air
Pervading the distinguished room.
Something in him began to flutter and loom,
If loom is not too utter a verb.—
Ah, but now the profile did not disturb;
From interior something there was access
Of saving, beseeched for consciousness,
Annulling Valton's unshaped distress.
The lady said: It is not last year.—
Valton said: Ah, the fear
That once abided in such a phrase.
(Has, for you, fear ever abided in a phrase?)
How gratifyingly she said, Your fear does not amaze
Me a whit. Ah no, for where but in a phrase
Should one find fear? Certainly I know, others do elsewhere.
They do not know fear so well, Mr. Valton. No.
—With such assurance we can go
To apprehension that is fair.—
She no longer was a profile. She
At last had seen in Mr. Valton the unsuspected elsewhere,
The uncertain, unbrought me.
From Hot Afternoons Have Been in Montana: Poems
© 1957 by Eli Siegel