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.
 
Baking Bread
By H. L. Davis
 
From “To the River Beach”

RED berries are on the bent stalks: these turn to the sky
That might be a pond of water. Geese come all day
In long squadrons which make no shadow, to the wild grass.
Silver-poplar leaf foxing in the frozen stalks,
A white blaze in this old garden, what poplar grove        5
Was that where the three women worked baking bread?—
Where they began at morning, by their fire under the wet boughs
And laid the loaves in the sun?
                    So one of these women came
From the bread-board, and a little into the grass,
And braided her dark hair again with cold hands.        10
One came loaded with dead wood close to the fire
And leaned, pulling her dress tight at the breast, to warm.
One was laying out loaves—two women at the fire.
I saw between them the leaves start along the wind’s lane,
And heard leaves like spray on the white trees, and saw the stems,        15
And low branches, which break in winter, bend and draw down.
Boughs drew between our eyes and the fire, eldest daughter,
That the blaze blew apart like leaves. She said: “Wind again,
To chill us, and to shake leaf-water over our bread.
This is our third month: and what have we to show        20
When the men brag that they have cleared so much ground?
The bread even tastes bitter of the poplar stems
That blow wild; look, this is spray from the river
On my hands and hair; the fire is blown out.
I am tired of cold and wind, and wild geese, and this field,        25
And of trimming fire and hair to suit the wind.”
 
And said: “We’ll have a house, and pleasure, when the grain’s in,
And when all this has lost me the use of my pride.”
And like river waves, heavy across the frozen beach,
The hair was heavy which her hands lifted; and her mouth        30
Had no color; and there was spray upon her face.
By now surely that woman is either old—
Or dead, more likely. Yet in pity of her pride
The mind stirs uneasy, as if she this day
Stood by the field’s edge braiding her hair, and gazed        35
At the fire in wind, under wet poplar boughs.
 
 
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