Fully occupied with growing—that's the amaryllis. Growing especially at night: it would take only a bit more patience than I've got to sit keeping watch with it till daylight; the naked eye could register every hour's increase in height. Like a child against a barn door, proudly topping each year's achievement, steadily up goes each green stem, smooth, matte, traces of reddish purple at the base, and almost imperceptible vertical ridges running the length of them: Two robust stems from each bulb, sometimes with sturdy leaves for company, elegant sweeps of blade with rounded points. Aloft, the gravid buds, shiny with fullness. One morning—and so soon!—the first flower has opened when you wake. Or you catch it poised in a single, brief moment of hesitation. Next day, another, shy at first like a foal, even a third, a fourth, carried triumphantly at the summit of those strong columns, and each a Juno, calm in brilliance, a maiden giantess in modest splendor. If humans could be that intensely whole, undistracted, unhurried, swift from sheer unswerving impetus! If we could blossom out of ourselves, giving nothing imperfect, withholding nothing!
Denise Levertov - 1923-1997
Those groans men use passing a woman on the street or on the steps of the subway to tell her she is a female and their flesh knows it, are they a sort of tune, an ugly enough song, sung by a bird with a slit tongue but meant for music? Or are they the muffled roaring of deafmutes trapped in a building that is slowly filling with smoke? Perhaps both. Such men most often look as if groan were all they could do, yet a woman, in spite of herself, knows it's a tribute: if she were lacking all grace they'd pass her in silence: so it's not only to say she's a warm hole. It's a word in grief-language, nothing to do with primitive, not an ur-language; language stricken, sickened, cast down in decrepitude. She wants to throw the tribute away, dis- gusted, and can't, it goes on buzzing in her ear, it changes the pace of her walk, the torn posters in echoing corridors spell it out, it quakes and gnashes as the train comes in. Her pulse sullenly had picked up speed, but the cars slow down and jar to a stop while her understanding keeps on translating: 'Life after life after life goes by without poetry, without seemliness, without love.'