Now, Many Years Later…

Now, many years later… How many years? …

Even now, I feel the sight you in the dry August dawn,

Running, bounding fawn-like through the dry grass.

One, two, and then flight, arms rising, fingers spreading…

Wings, dispelling those unwary spirits caught basking in the early sun.

Four, five, and once more leaping, cervine, chin rising, eyes blazing…

Their enchanting fire snaring my unwary gaze in their net of golden flight.


And once again the feeling opens my heart,

And you leap in to take possession.

You wrap me around you in this unimaginable way,

Imprisoning me in your freedom.

You, leaping down the hillside, barefoot and laughing—

At me? behind the glass? looking out?


How many times has this scene shot my thoughts?

How many nights has this morning sun lit my dreams,

Drawing shadows around my heart? And I have said nothing.

And I say nothing now, years later when still I cannot part from you.


To you, the absent companion to everything in my life,

I said nothing.

When you, my heart’s enchanter, said that soon you’d have to die,

The words froze in my heart,

And stuffed my mouth with dumb confusion.

I could not say, “Let me go.”


And now, many years later still, I look into the void and see

The bounding, fawn-like boy floating away from me.

My heart imprisoned in his grip, my freedom in his eyes,

And even now beyond life,

He once more takes up residence in my enraptured heart,

And still, I cannot say the words, “Let me go.”


November 2011

My comment:

This is based on an event from 46 year ago in Evergreen, Colorado. The image lasted a few seconds, but struck me so strongly at the time that I have never forgotten it Nor have I been able to describe why I was so captured by this moment. The subject of the poem fell victim to AIDS in the 80’s, while living in California. He called me here in Minnesota shortly before that. The image of his running down the slope outside his mother’s house the morning after I met him returns to me like reminders of unpaid medical bills over the years, often in a dream. It is not the history I have tried to capture however, but the almost indescribable feeling that accompanied the moment and accompanies the recollections of it. Any comparison to Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique is coincidental, but serendipitous. I think a symphony could perhaps capture this better, but is certainly outside my scope.

About Jay C Ritterson
The only failure is the failure to try.

One Response to Now, Many Years Later…

  1. Ann says:

    Now, I too, can see that boy running down the hill, so full of life and love.
    To think such a sprite is now among the many who have died of AIDs is
    depressingly sad. But how sweetly remembered.


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