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To the Soft South Wind


ISSUE:  Winter 1926

Land of the lazy: breeze whose fits and starts
Themselves are sweer except when Autumn-whipped
To bursts of violence: mummer of parts
Languorous as a drooping frond
Of the most listless doom-palm whence you come
Over warm weed-choked seas, but stripped
To silence then: South Wind, your call, half hum,
Half sibilance, is much too soft, too fond.

Heavily filmed with sudor like the fruit
Of Haytian mangosteens, you weigh the sky
Down till it reeks of earth. So absolute
The burden of your fulness—none
May throw it off? Your breath breeds breathlessness
In soil-bound beings. Faint, they sigh
Easy surrender. An, your slow caress
Has learned the black arts from the voodoo sun.

South Wind, sly sister of the Serpent God
(Who is not and yet is in southern lands
Where Things that cannot be lift up and nod
Their all but prostrate heads in vile
Decretals which the soul rejects but flesh
Trembles to disobey), your hands
Are firm although invisible and nesh,
Your suave susurrant voice a wetted file.

You are the Snake Witch among winds, your scales
The green-gray clouds that lash to foam the sea
For Hurakan when, sniffing land, he wails
With swelling, sharpened appetite.
Your coils the dreamer may resist by day
If constant to the sapphire-tree,
But needs the gold of all the stars to pay
The bribe of safety when you crawl the night.

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