I will not walk in the wood to-night, I will not stand by the water’s edge And see day lie on the dusk’s bright ledge Until it turn, a star at its breast, To rest. I will not see the wide-flung hills Closing darkly about my grief, I wore a crown of their lightest leaf, But now they press like a cold, blue ring, Imprisoning. I dare not meet that caroling blade, Jauntily drawn in the sunset pine, Stabbing me with its thrust divine, Knowing my naked, aching need, Till I bleed. Sheathe your song, invincible bird, Strike not at me with that flashing note, Have pity, have pity, persistent throat, Deliver me not to your dread delight To-night! I am afraid of the creeping wood, I am afraid of the furtive trees, Hiding behind them, memories, Ready to spring, to clutch, to tear, Wait for me there.
I had a sudden vision in the night—
I did not sleep, I dare not say I dreamed—
Beside my bed a pallid ladder gleamed
And lifted upward to the sky's dim height:
And every rung shone strangely in that light,
And every rung a woman's body seemed,
Outstretched, and down the sides her long hair streamed,
And you—you climbed that ladder of delight!
You climbed, sure-footed, naked rung by rung,
Clasped them and trod them, called them by their name,
And my name too I heard you speak at last;
You stood upon my breast the while and flung
A hand up to the next! And then—oh shame—
I kissed the foot that bruised me as it passed.