Birthday

The clock above the town has tallied one
more day. The tones suspend like domes
no longer than before, the hours have run
the normal pace. Gabled Rhineland homes
as ever sleep beneath the pointed church,
a crystal tree beside the wall like lace
or moonlight woven in the craftsman’s search
for all the lines that vanished with no trace.

Yet struck in brass tonight was time that made
me count thirty, ten thousand days that froze
into as many separate criss-crossed roads
with no sign of where my youth is laid.

Slender shadows stain the Gothic rose
cast from the ghost beside the chapel stones.

Ingelheim, 1963

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