BACK THEN

William Dennis
 
I said, lets share a kiss, 
we’d shared a straw back then; love was a catchy germ, 
not theory, but fixed law back then.
 
A lifetime later, love’s old 
jokes draw forth a high pitched sound; your startled cry was 
nearly drowned by my guffaw back then.
 
How you have changed, my empty purse—
like me, now, you’re all wrinkles; smooth youth’s loose strings let any 
loving hand withdraw back then.
 
When young we felt we spoke 
with muscular sophistication, for I was, “heap big brave,” 
and you, my little squaw,” back then.
 
St. Valentine, if love 
does clarify the vision, fear it; love never squinted hard 
enough to see your flaw back then.
 
Young promise ages to predictions, 
wish, then breath on air; my fondest recollections 
now were only jaw back then.
 
Years later, I see what 
you were to me—you were my mirror; in your reflective eyes 
I used to stare with awe back then.
 
Ice crystalizes all 
but useless—brittle, hard and bright; but it was tyrant summer, 
we never longed for thaw back then.
 
And we made many arch proposals, 
solemn propositions—bills that you would veto 
or that I’d withdraw back then.

 

WILLIAM DENNIS has been fascinated with ghazal since visiting India for his daughter's wedding in Andhra Pradesh. He recently published Foreign Language: Exploring the Ghazal in English, a volume of his own ghazal, at Amazon Books in electronic Kindle format. A second volume, primarily devoted to his translations of ghazal by the immense Urdu poet, Ghalib, is forthcoming, also from Amazon. See all seven of his books here.