Robert Francis


Suddenly all the gold I ever wanted
Let loose and fell on me. A storm of gold
Starting with rain a quick sun catches falling
And in the rain (fall within fall) a whirl
Of yellow leaves, glitter of paper nuggets.

And there were puddles the sun was winking at
And fountains saucy with goldfish, fantails, sunfish
And trout slipping in streams it would be insult
To call gold and, trailing their incandescent
Fingers, meteors and a swimming moon.

Flowers of course. Chrysanthemums and clouds
Of twisted cool witch-hazel and marigolds,
Late dandelions and all the goldenrods.
And bees all pollen and honey, wasps gold-banded
And hornets dangling their legs, cruising the sun.

The luminous birds, goldfinches and orioles,
Were gone or going, leaving some of their gold
Behind in near gold, off-gold, ultra-golden
Beeches, birches, maples, apples. And under
The appletrees the lost, the long-lost names.

Pumpkins and squashes heaped in a cold-gold sunset–
Oh, I was crushed like Croesus, Midas-smothered
And died in a maple-fall a boy was raking
Nightward to burst all bonfire-gold together–
And leave at last in a thin blue prayer of smoke.

Robert Francis, Robert Francis: Collected Poems, 1936-1976,
University of Massachusetts Press, 1985.