Inside And Outside

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Now twenty-four or maybe twenty-five
Was the woman's age, and her white brow was sleek;
Lips parted in surprise, the flawless cheek;
The long brown hair coiled sullenly alive;
Her hands, dropt in her lap, could not arrive
At the novel on the table, being weak;
Nor breath, expunger of the mortal streak
Of nature, its own tenement contrive;

For look you how her body stiffly lies
Just as she left it, unprepared to stay,
The posture waiting on the sleeping eyes,
While the body's life, deep as a covered well,
Instinctive as the wind, busy as May,
Burns out a secret passageway to hell.

There is not anything to say to those
Speechless, who have stood up white to the eye
All night-till day, harrying the game too close,
Quarries the perils that at midnight lie
Waiting for those who hope to mortify
With foolish daylight their most anxious fear,
A bloodless and white fear that she may die
In the hushed room, and leave them soundless here:

There is no word that death can find to say
Deeper than life, savager than their time.
When Gabriel's trumpet ends all life's delay,
Will crash the beams of firmamental woe:
Not nature will sustain the even crime
Of death, though death sustains all nature, so.

© Allen Tate