Once, when leaves on trees
whispered with human voices
to the night, Elina of the Lake
washed her newly sewn
white clothes, by the light
of the white moon who too washes
the earth in silvery water of her glow.
The seamstress sang as the water
lapped the lakeshore. Her voice
was a bird, trapped in a cage—
haunting, sweet, the sad sound
of love lost forever.
The spirit of the water, moved
by her voice, came and sat, and
watched, invisible to mortal eye.
At last, Elina finished her
wearisome work and turned to go.
“Wait!” the spirit cried.
“Wait, I am lonely.”
Elina whirled round,
face clothed in fright.
She called, “Who’s there?”
The light entranced her eyes.
The light on the water. Like mist,
the spirit came to stand beside her,
like a wraith, a shadow, a shade.
“Stay. I am lonely.”
“If you stay for one night,
sing as the wind sings to the earth,
I will give you a gift.”
Elina pondered by the pool, and sang
sweet songs of love, love lost,
of time’s treachery, of sounds
of moon-bathed night. Dawn came,
rose air through green-topped trees.
“I give you my gift now,”
said the spirit. “I know the love
you held in your small hands
and lost to the night. I am he
whom you lost—Palir, the hunter.”
And he spoke the special word
that was to be their sign of love forever.
Elina’s eyes blossomed wide, seeing her
dear love’s form, clear in the light,
standing near in rippling water.
She tried to embrace him, but slipped, fell in,
fell in over her head in deep water.
To protect her life, dear precious as gold,
Palir made her, with water-spirit’s power,
into a water lily, white and pure.
And together they stayed at peace, as one:
Water caressing flower, flower resting with water.