A Lover

Amy Lowell - 1874-1925

If I could catch the green lantern of the firefly I could see to write you a letter.

More by Amy Lowell

A London Thoroughfare. 2 A.M.


They have watered the street,
It shines in the glare of lamps, 
Cold, white lamps, 
And lies
Like a slow-moving river,
Barred with silver and black.
Cabs go down it,
One,
And then another,
Between them I hear the shuffling of feet.
Tramps doze on the window-ledges,
Night-walkers pass along the sidewalks.
The city is squalid and sinister,
With the silver-barred street in the midst,
Slow-moving,
A river leading nowhere.

Opposite my window,
The moon cuts,
Clear and round,
Through the plum-coloured night.
She cannot light the city:
It is too bright.
It has white lamps,
And glitters coldly.

I stand in the window and watch the
   moon.
She is thin and lustreless,
But I love her.
I know the moon, 
And this is an alien city.

Opal

You are ice and fire,
The touch of you burns my hands like snow.
You are cold and flame.
You are the crimson of amaryllis,
The silver of moon-touched magnolias.
When I am with you,
My heart is a frozen pond
Gleaming with agitated torches.

The Taxi

When I go away from you
The world beats dead 
Like a slackened drum.
I call out for you against the jutted stars
And shout into the ridges of the wind.
Streets coming fast,
One after the other,
Wedge you away from me,
And the lamps of the city prick my eyes
So that I can no longer see your face.
Why should I leave you,
To wound myself upon the sharp edges of the night?

Related Poems

The Lover

New Delhi, 1965

I took the train from Patiala,
left the girls with Ayah, and lied,
I'm with Faye and Daisy.
       Had to say what he'd approve of.
Go then, Kiran said, crushing large rupees in my hand.

Have I been here a week?
I've slept so long I can't remember
who was with me last night in bed,
that figure leaning against the door?
Did he leave me this gold bangle?
I can feel its heft around my wrist,
knobs and crests, a design
from the high Mogul period of Aurangazeb.

I have come to Delhi
to remember our ancient past—so little, a bangle,
       what else?
When it slid over my hand,
I opened myself like a book and you hear its private pulsing.
In the quiet he said, Put your hand here
       to save your place.
I put my hand there, and he pressed it.
He sat with me a minute, and he went away,
left something to hinge me in the wind of myself,
to calm my legs.
Empire is large land and I can't touch it.
A smile is a root my mother said don't bother.
I am small.  I married a dark talent
from a small world.
Until he asked me to drop my shawl
and slid his finger on my shoulder,
let me taste our leisure.
I read him.  I peeled back lies.
I had harped on grandeur,
but the Taj Mahal and Rome are a fantasy.
What's left is my darkness. He spoke to me
of skin and I touched it.


Until he asked me to drop my shawl
and slid his finger on my shoulder,
let me taste our leisure.
It required my defiance of the small world.
He asked would you, and I said I would.
I read him.  I drank up my history and peeled back the glossy lies.
I had harped on former grandeur,
but the Taj Mahal and Rome are a fantasy.
What's left is my darkness. He spoke to me simply of skin and I touched it.

For so many years I kept my mantra:
they are great and I am small.
I've slept.  I've tasted my own milk.
I'll raise my girls, then I'll be back to taste the morning.