In memory of S. B. V., 1834-1909
... so what the lame four-poster gathered here
Between the lips of stale and seasoned sheets
Startles a memory sunlit upon the wall
(Motors and urchins contest the city streets)
While towards the bed the rigid shadows lean
Stung to the patience of all emptiness
And the bed empty where she kept,
Jerky gnats lunge at the haggard screen.
And now upstairs the lint that crusts the sills
Erodes in a windy shift along the floor.
Shall now her touselled eyes rinse out the haze
Of winter sprawled like a waif outside the door?
Feet answer: alternate and withdrawn
To the hard ease of lacquered pine that clamps
The shuffled fists into the breast and neck.
Time begins to elucidate her bones
Then you, so crazy and inviolate,
Will finger the console with a fearful touch,
Go past the horsehair sofa, the gilded frames
Whose faces are tired names
For the lifeblood that labors you so much.