And there was no dance,
no holy place
from which we were absent.
— Sapphic fragment
We were there when we were able,
taking you in our hearts’ arms
to step about the square at night
and then to share the lovers’ bed
until the night turned morning.
We were there, making all the motions,
but not fully present in our heads.
Duty kept its own embrace for us,
and we sat waiting its clarion call
as if awaiting the promised taste of lips.
We were young, a prime requirement
in the eyes of old men reluctant
to do foul deeds themselves
but not unwilling to call us to arms,
to insist the deeds required doing.
We were young, too unskilled
and too impoverished to argue the call.
In any case, there was no battle,
no bloodied place on ground or ocean,
from which we were fully absent.