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.
 
Cactus Seed
By Lola Ridge
 
I
RADIANT notes
Piercing my narrow-chested room,
Beating down through my ceiling—
Smeared with unshapen
Belly-prints of dreams        5
Drifted out of old smokes—
Trillions of icily
Peltering notes
Out of just one canary;
All grown to song,        10
As a plant to its stalk,
From too long craning at a sky-light
And a square of second-hand blue.
 
Silvery-strident throat
So assiduously serenading me,        15
My brain flinches under
The glittering hail of your notes.
Were you not safe behind—rats know what thickness of—plastered wall,
I might fathom
Your golden delirium        20
With throttle of finger and thumb,
Shutting valve of bright song.
 
II
But if—away off—on a fork of grassed earth
Socketing an inlet of blue water …
If canaries—do they sing out of cages?—        25
Flung such luminous notes,
They would sink in the spirit,
Lie germinal …
Housed in the soul as a seed in the earth,
To break forth at spring with the crocuses        30
        into young smiles on the mouth …
Or, glancing off buoyantly,
Radiate notes in one key
With the sparkle of rain-drops
On the petal of a cactus flower        35
Focusing the just-out sun.
 
Cactus … why cactus?
God … God!
Somewhere … away off …
Cactus flowers, star-yellow,        40
Ray out of spiked green;
And empties of sky
Roll you over and over
Like a mother her baby in long grass.
And only the wind scandal-mongers with gum trees,        45
Pricking multiple leaves at his wondrous story.
 
 
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