Gay little Girl-of-the-Diving-Tank, I desire a name for you, Nice, as a right glove fits; For you—who amid the malodorous Mechanics of this unlovely thing, Are darling of spirit and form. I know you—a glance, and what you are Sits-by-the-fire in my heart. My Limousine-Lady knows you, or Why does the slant-envy of her eye mark Your straight air and radiant inclusive smile? Guilt pins a fig-leaf; Innocence is its own adorning. The bull-necked man knows you—this first time His itching flesh sees form divine and vibrant health And thinks not of his avocation. I came incuriously— Set on no diversion save that my mind Might safely nurse its brood of misdeeds In the presence of a blind crowd. The color of life was gray. Everywhere the setting seemed right For my mood. Here the sausage and garlic booth Sent unholy incense skyward; There a quivering female-thing Gestured assignations, and lied To call it dancing; There, too, were games of chance With chances for none; But oh! Girl-of-the-Tank, at last! Gleaming Girl, how intimately pure and free The gaze you send the crowd, As though you know the dearth of beauty In its sordid life. We need you—my Limousine-Lady, The bull-necked man and I. Seeing you here brave and water-clean, Leaven for the heavy ones of earth, I am swift to feel that what makes The plodder glad is good; and Whatever is good is God. The wonder is that you are here; I have seen the queer in queer places, But never before a heaven-fed Naiad of the Carnival-Tank! Little Diver, Destiny for you, Like as for me, is shod in silence; Years may seep into your soul The bacilli of the usual and the expedient; I implore Neptune to claim his child to-day!
Anne Spencer - 1882-1975
Lines to a Nasturtium
A lover muses Flame-flower, Day-torch, Mauna Loa, I saw a daring bee, today, pause, and soar, Into your flaming heart; Then did I hear crisp crinkled laughter As the furies after tore him apart? A bird, next, small and humming, Looked into your startled depths and fled... Surely, some dread sight, and dafter Than human eyes as mine can see, Set the stricken air waves drumming In his flight. Day-torch, Flame-flower, cool-hot Beauty, I cannot see, I cannot hear your fluty Voice lure your loving swain, But I know one other to whom you are in beauty Born in vain; Hair like the setting sun, Her eyes a rising star, Motions gracious as reeds by Babylon, bar All your competing; Hands like, how like, brown lilies sweet, Cloth of gold were fair enough to touch her feet... Ah, how the senses flood at my repeating, As once in her fire-lit heart I felt the furies Beating, beating.