For years and years, during the dark days
of war and famine, the faithful among us
prayed and watched and waited for a miracle,
for healing, for salvation, for deliverance from evil.
In the hot weather and in the cold weather
our numbers grew fewer and fewer.
The memory of good things faded: fresh flowers
in crystal vases, the look and feel of silk and linen,
the music made by piano and cello and violin
in hushed rooms hung with chandeliers
where during intermission we were awed
by Piero della Francesca, Botticelli, Fra Angelico.
Even the memory of the lover to whom we promised
I'll never forget you, last seen with her lips pressed
to the window of the last departing train, faded
to oblivion. The recording angels were appalled.
The eyes of the dead regarded their lost lives
wandering in the snow as though their deaths
had never happened. Choirs no longer sang
Sursum corda, Dona nobis pacem.
Even the ancient saying Ara longa, vita brevis
proved only half-true. And in our own native tongue
the lambent whisper I love you
rarely, if ever, escaped our lips. . . .
But now, years later, in Phase Five of the Reconstruction,
we are well again and living in New Times.
The previously inconvenient hills are leveled,
cleared of gorse and heather
to make way for Gore-Tex and healthier
living. We are governed by dicta that avoid the old pitfalls-
foremost, by the oh so eminently sound injunction
always to look forward, never to look back.