Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
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CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
 
Conversation
By Isidor Schneider
 
I
“SUPPOSE,” he thought, “there are invisible beings, fairies, elves;
Suppose rheumatism is nothing but Robin-pinches;
Suppose a wind is only the beating of fairy wings
And fairy fingers doffing your hat to invisible majesties.”
 
He sat on the bench motionless.        5
The dust sifted upon him,
Leaves caught upon his clothing,
Vagrant sheets of paper wrapped about his feet.
 
“Chance is decent and does not leave the silent things exposed.
She covers the stone with moss, and spreads        10
A coverlet of mold upon the unmoving things.
“Suppose I stayed here a year?
Would the elves come and cover me with leaf drift, and dust
Carefully shaken over me?
Would they sow seeds under my feet?        15
Would the moss grow from the clay on the soles of my shoe?
Would I be wound in spider-webs?”
 
II
Another one sat down beside him
And cut his world in two.
He moved back as if to drag back the severed half,        20
But the other one held it tenaciously.
His very shadow was a seal of possession, ineffaceable.
For a moment they sat still, taut,
Like two who tug at a rope.
 
“Pleasant day?”        25
 
“Pleasant day!”
 
And so they fused their world with sticky speech.
 
“I was wondering how it would be
To be a year in one place—
For the rain to soften you, and the wind to mold you,        30
And the dust to fill in your cracks.”
 
“You would be a tree then:
Your toes would drip into roots;
Your arms would be long brown branches
Holding leaves like cups to fill with sunlight and dew.”        35
 
“If I were silent
The invisible realms would open about me;
The unseen people would build a road between my feet—
They would build a city in the shadow of my knees,
Like cities built below mountains.        40
I might be their sphinx, satiate with questions.”
 
“There is no invisible world
Except the worlds you do not see.
These can be reached by travel.
Your stillness will not be inviolate—        45
All things using life will apportion you
With shrewd husbandry:
The birds will inherit your head and your shoulders;
Hungry things will not spare you;
Insects and beasts will dispute your flesh,        50
And bound your body for dwelling-places.”
 
“There is no need of travel—
Stillness will invite these other worlds
That are delayed by distance.
The wind will plant about my feet        55
Their final flowers;
The rivers will wash their soil under my roots;
The travel-urge will throw
Their curious sampled people out to me.
The other worlds I mean are mixed with this—        60
They course within our life
Like floods within the ocean.”
 
“I do not think these things—
They walk like strangers out beyond my mind;
Only of this world, which I see suddenly        65
Like clouds disclosed by lightnings.
Love came to me suddenly;
Hatred armed my hands once,
And I knew remorse.
Hunger and a red wound        70
Taught me the thin texture of life.”
 
“They say the sky is distance only,
And the color of distance is blue.
And that is why violets, who have the distance of fragility,
Are blue.        75
Since there are larger worlds around us
There must be smaller other-worlds within us,
If one could find them.”
 
“We who are within the waiting-rooms of existence
Should not peer into the deeper halls,        80
Nor tempt the attendants with our lauding curiosity.”
 
“Can you not watch how the ceilings and the walls
Mark the backs of other rooms?
Can you not let your mind tentatively therein?”
 
“No—I would still suspect it.”        85
 
“Well—?”
 
“Well—I’ll be going; good-day?”
 
“Good day!”
 
And one man walked away, brushing from him crawling words;
While the other sat still,        90
Wiping from his world
The stains of conversation.
 
 
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