Aleta mentions in her tender letters,
Among a chain of quaint and touching things,
That you are feeble, weighted down with fetters,
And given to strange deeds and mutterings.
No longer without trace or thought of fear,
Do you leap to and ride the rebel roan;
But have become the victim of grim care,
With three brown beauties to support alone.
But none the less will you be in my mind,
Wild May that cantered by the risky ways,
With showy head-cloth flirting in the wind,
From market in the glad December days;
Wild May of whom even other girls could rave
Before sex tamed your spirit, made you slave.
From Harlem Shadows (New York, Harcourt, Brace and company, 1922) by Claude McKay. This poem is in the public domain.
as I picture her
she has no basil
no sun-hardened hyssop
nor sage around her eyes
she never catnips
but laughs comfrey
tansy with a primula smile
as I think of her
foxglove and jasmine
not letting you see
all her saffron at once
one day I’ll meet her
that rue woman
that wild indigo teasel
free of woodruff and of dropwort
some summer savory
she's the nose
set to lavender
eye full of sesame
ear ringing rosemary
through wild thyme
From How to Live in the Heartland (Flatwater Editions, 1992). Copyright © 1992 by Twyla Hansen. Used with the permission of the author.
When I came back, he was gone. My mother was in the bathroom crying, my sister in her crib restless but asleep. The sun was shining in the bay window, the grass had not been cut. No one mentioned the other woman, nights he spent in that stranger's house. I sat at my desk and wrote him a note. When my mother saw his name on the sheet of paper, she asked me to leave the house. When she spoke, her voice was like a whisper to someone else, her hand a weight on my arm I could not feel. In the evening, though, I opened the door and saw a thousand houses just like ours. I thought I was the one who was leaving, and behind me I heard my mother's voice asking me to stay. But I was thirteen and wishing I were a man I listened to no one, and no words from a woman I loved were strong enough to make me stop.
From Palm Reading In Winter by Ira Sadoff, published by Houghton Mifflin. Copyright © 1978 by Ira Sadoff. Used by permission of the author.
“It is the future generation that presses into being by means of
these exuberant feelings and supersensible soap bubbles of ours.”
“The hot night makes us keep our bedroom windows open. Our magnolia blossoms. Life begins to happen. My hopped up husband drops his home disputes, and hits the streets to cruise for prostitutes, free-lancing out along the razor’s edge. This screwball might kill his wife, then take the pledge. Oh the monotonous meanness of his lust. . . It’s the injustice . . . he is so unjust— whiskey-blind, swaggering home at five. My only thought is how to keep alive. What makes him tick? Each night now I tie ten dollars and his car key to my thigh. . . . Gored by the climacteric of his want, he stalls above me like an elephant.”
From Selected Poems by Robert Lowell, published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc. Copyright © 1976, 1977 by Robert Lowell. Used by permission.