The Hidden Springs

by Sarah Maclay

The water: clean, cool.
You like to sit on the steps, stick your feet in.

You’ve even mentioned, in some interview,
that it’s your favorite place to sit—

just off the kitchen, in the center of the house,
instead of stairs going down to the basement,
when you open the door:
steps down to canals
as though a long cave opens,
lit by sunlight from one point that fans out

into a whole city, like a modern Brugge.
You could spend hours here.

You ask me why I’ve never asked to come to this place.
I say I’ve always longed to,
but always thought it was private—

that it should be a place you’d take me
only if you wanted,
not a place that I should ask to see.

And as we sit on your steps with our feet in the water
a “strange deer” walks past—big as a moose
but antlers like an elk, maybe eight points each.

I can’t explain the movement, it’s so slow—“majestic”
comes to mind, but that’s not majestic enough.

I have a feeling for a moment that the elk is God—
a god that we can watch.

I think there’s light in the antlers.

Amaranth springs up, as you wonder about Paris—
those purple sprigs begin to sprout

and how did I know it was here that we were
when the water erupted, too, from my center

as you held me close, on your lap.

It is enough, maybe, to know it exists—
to know just once.

May I not be greedy for what was.

“The Hidden Springs” will appear in Sarah Maclay’s Nightfall Marginalia, in October 2023, from What Books Press.

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