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Encounter

It was late summer.

I walked down an old lane
Where the disused path and high bank
Held still the fetid glory of
Rhododendrons. The arch of dank
Growth shocked me. The dark
Green seemed bleak and the deep
Purple of the rotting blossoms
Was like a hole in air: a steady seep
Of death out of summer's joy.
It hurt to look, but I stood
There wrapped in a dark spell
Unable to laugh with the chattering wood
Thrush in the sunny field, cold
In the damp hole where the gloom held sway.
I fought it and, tripping on
Bramble and thorn, I hurried away
Bitten on my scored flesh
By the sour teeth of nettles,
Helpless I emerged into the day

And gasped that it was still there.