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.
 
Branded
By Amy Sebree-Smith
 
To that typical plainsman, L. S.

THE SPELL of the desert is on me—it’s got me fast and sure,
And I must leave the easy trail to follow the desert’s lure;
I’m marked with the signs of its branding—wild eye, black lip, raw skin;
Through hunger, thirst, through hell I’ll go to follow the curséd thing!
 
What is the spell of the desert?—how can a fellow say?        5
Is it the sun on the drifting sands of a blinding, burning day?
Perhaps the hiss of a rattler coiled in a clump of mesquite?
Or maybe the little dust-devils running on twisted feet?
 
You say it’s the blaze of colors that come when daylight goes,
Colors that never had a name and only the desert knows;        10
And then the sudden drop of night, so still you can hear the tread
Of a coyote nosing the water-hole, or the turn of your broncho’s head.
I tell you, the spell is none of these: it’s something a man can’t see;
But what it is that haunts the place you will never learn from me.
I only know it’s branded me—this much I can understand.        15
And I must leave the easy trail to wander that burning land.
The spell of the desert is on me—it’s got me fast and sure,
And I must leave the easy trail to follow the desert’s lure.
I’m marked with the signs of its branding—wild eye, black lip, raw skin.
Through hunger, thirst, through hell I’ll go to follow the curséd thing!        20
 
 
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