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.
 
In This Wet Orchard
By H. L. Davis
 
From “To the River Beach”

“OTHERS came in this wet orchard,” I say. “Years ago
There were many like the tall woman who comes now,
Avoiding with her head the low swinging boughs;
And they kept the weeds cut better.” Noise of waves;
Wind running through the tree-tops; the speed of salt-tasting        5
Wind parting the boughs and the weeds about her knees.
I begin to say: “I lived in this place all one year
Before I was grown; and you were that one of them,
The girl nearly grown who stood beside the weed fire
In only a blue dress, and that dirty. The wind        10
Wrapped it on your body and wound it like fire,
Like a fire in grass. You were that one who cried
That she was eating wind. You had a red mouth,
You had a red mouth, your short hair wound over your face
As the flame did around your legs. Thin girl,        15
Sharp-voiced in the smoke, screaming loud as a hawk,
‘The smoke follows the beauty!’ There was a young man
With you, I forget his name.”
                    “Are you that brother,
The little boy who lay bellied against the grass,
Staring and staring at us, and at the sky        20
Where birds climbed and looked down? When we left the fire.
You turned your face to the wet grass in the ditch,
And whispered, ‘Like, like, like.’ You would take more words
Now, to describe us.”
                “Yes, or no words at all.”
 
“Well. The waves yonder, the wild crabapple trees        25
Bring that time to mind quicker. Coarse broad-blade grass,
The cut-grass with three sides, the wild cheat-grass, white
And all broken, with its seed shelled. The tracked ground
And leaf-stems marked my hands and arms; the windfalls
From the wild crabapple trees; a young thorn-tree        30
Which I tasted the bark of. Taste of salt, the sun.
I could eat the wind then, and salt water. I wanted no fire,
For running in the sun warmed me. No friend need
Ever put a hand on me. I was the beauty.
The young man who is dead could have told you.”
                            Then I:
        35
“I remember your face better than your sisters’ names.
The tall girl in the wind of that fire.”
                        And she again:
“Yes. If I die here, and hang on a fruit-tree
To scare birds from my orchard, you’ll go under me
Thinking that girl died years ago; remember her        40
Thin legs, wind in her short hair, her shrill voice,
And go between these trees saying, ‘Dead so long,’
As if she had never grown, for lack of you.
Look at me. This is my orchard; and these are her hands;
My mouth is the mouth you remember, red or not red.”        45
 
Let it be, until she have gone; but I know this:
That you can come to this orchard, O thin girl!
I have seen you run here, and seen the wind burn your face
And burn your young mouth, and blow your dress like fire.
And your spirit passes me when I desire.        50
 
 
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