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Bitter Burial

ISSUE:  Autumn 1933

Ilook at you, white girl, fatally walled In a harsh black rectangle away from me,
And this untouchable leaves me appalled,
This whiter than whey, this alien effigy With a heaviness of deathly lilies, white And cold as a headstone glimmering at night.—
Before they caught this figment and confined,
Your antic heart ran out with your nimble mind.
This is not you that they have summoned back To a virginal estate.
There is no track Even as a sea-bird’s delicate print on sand Of those deep kisses that brought the live blood out Upon your cheeks. (It is hard to understand How cheeks can slough off kisses so completely!) Behold a tender artifice about This virgin of white violets, posing sweetly,
And white wistaria drained of purple blood.
I will drain my heart of bitterness;
I have stood Among her embattled people who would say If they could see the dark drops leak away:
“You have no right in her; now we will name
Her ours on unalterable stone.”
No bitterness,
I say! How should I claim
This coldness,
I who have worshipfully known
Your small quick body, warm and without shame,
Devouring love, by love devoured wholly,
And, holding you, have stared into your eyes,
Opaque green pools from which old things would rise
And, half-divined, half-shapely, gather slowly
And leap like fish;
I who have plunged and drowned,
Who, trying to encompass you, have lost
Myself, and having lost myself, have found
You and possessed you at this trivial cost!
The air here clutches at my gorge; the sweet,
Too-pungent floral pieces, limp with heat,
And those funereal wreaths, your friends, exude
A cloying sorrow. —
How I want to laugh
In their starched faces that they think they could
Entrap you with a marble epitaph!


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