Stanley Jasspon Kunitz

1905-2006 / Worcester, Massachusetts

Master And Mistress

As if I were composed of dust and air,
The shape confronting me upon the stair
(Athlete of shadow, lighted by a stain
On its disjunctive breast- I saw it plain- )
Moved through my middle flesh. I turned around,
Shaken and it was marching without sound
Beyond the door; and when my hand was taken

From my mouth to beat the standing heart, I cried
My distant name, thinking myself had died.
One moment I was entered; one moment then
I knew a total century of pain
Between the twinkling of two thoughts. The ghost
Knocked on my ribs, demanding, 'Host! Host!
I am diseased with motion. Give me bread
Before I quickly go. Shall I be fed?'
Yielding, I begged of him: 'Partake of me.
Whatever runneth from the artery,
This body and its unfamiliar wine,
Stored in whatever dark of love, are thine.'
But he denied me, saying, 'Every part
of thee is given, yea, thy flesh, thy heart.'
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