Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
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Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
 
Song of a Woman with Twins
By Myrtle Eberstein
 
From “Woman-songs of the Herero”

Ou! Ou! Ou!
When I was young and little,
And thought only of the mealies and the sun
And the wet whispering river water,
How could I tell what would befall me        5
How could I know what should come to me!
 
Why did the demons come?
Why did they make me bear
Two bodies at one birth?
Ah, they were not like demons—        10
They were like little helpless man-children.
Little and hungry, with curling hands and feet,
Like the son I hoped to bear!
 
All the night I screamed
And all the night I bore them—        15
Why did the witch-man’s drum, beating by my head,
Why did the witch-man’s charms, smelling strong with enchantment—
Why did they not keep the demons
From being born to me?
My father gave him cowries,        20
Cowries and a gun,
Taken from a white man
That he killed a year ago—
Slowly, slowly,
For good and lasting magic        25
That the gun should shoot straight.
None had such a gun!
And yet the demons came—
At my right breast a demon,
At my left breast a demon,        30
Sucking, sucking.
 
Oh, the little hungry mouths,
Oh, the little curling hands,
That they will drown tonight!
 
Ou! Ou! Ou!        35
When I was little and young,
Tumbling laughing in the sunshine,
How should I know what would come to me?
How should I know what would befall me?
Ou! Ou! Ou!        40
 
 
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