hot sun shining on your face-- it must be a new day. But why aren't you happy if it's a new day? Because something has happened... something sad and terrible.... Now I remember... it's Janie. Yesterday I took Janie out and tied my handkerchief over her face and put sand in it and threw her into the ditch down in the black water under the dock leaves... and when mama asked me where Janie was I said I had lost her. : : I'm glad it is night-time so I'll be able to go to sleep and forget all about it.... But mama looks at my tongue and says she will give me senna tea. When you smell the tea you shut your eyes tight and pretend not to hear the soft, cool voice of mama that goes over your forehead like a little wind. And then you lie in the dark and stare... and stare... till the faces come... yellow faces with leering eyes drifting in a greeny mist.... I wonder if Janie sees faces out there... alone in the dark.... I wonder if she has got the handkerchief off or if the water has gone in the hole where the whistle was at the back of her head and drowned her... or if the stars can see her under the dock leaves? : : It's smoky-blue and still over the red road. Wind must be lying down with its tail under it-- doesn't even flick off the flies. And you can hear the silence buzzing in the gum trees, the way the angels buzzed when they flew through the cedars of Lebanon with thin gauze wings you could see through. Nice to hear the silence buzzing-- till it comes too close and booms in your ears and presses all over you till you scream.... When you scream at the silence it goes to jingling pieces like a silver mirror broken into tiny bits. Perhaps its wings are made of glass-- perhaps it lives down in a dark, dark cave and only comes up to warm its wings in the sun.... It's cold in the cave-- no matter how you cover yourself up. Little girls sit there dressed in white and the dolls in their arms all have white handkerchiefs over their faces. Their shadows cannot play with them... their shadows lie down at their feet... for the little girls sit stiff as stones with their backs to the mouth of the cave where a little light falls off the wings of the silence when it comes down out of the sun. : : Moon catches the flying fish as they dive in the bay. Flying fish spin over and over slippity-silver into the water. Mom bends over jungles and touches the foreheads of tigers as they pass under openings made by dropped leaves. Tigers stop on the trail of the deer while the moon is on their foreheads-- they let the stags go by. Moon is shining strangely on the white palings of the fence. Fence keeps very still... most times it moves a little... everything moves a little though you mayn't know it... but now the little fence wouldn't change places with the great cross that stands so stiff and high with its back to the moon. Moon shining strangely on the white palings of the fence, I am shining too but my light is shut inside of me and can't get out. : : Old house with black windows-- blind house begging moonlight to put out the shadows-- why do you want so much light? You creak when the wind steps on you-- you cough up dust and your beams ache-- you know you will soon fall, the moon just pities you! Don't waste yourself moon-- come on my bed and play with me. Wrap me up in blue light, you who are cool. I am too hot, I am all alive and the shadows are outside of me. : : There are different kinds of shadows. The blind ones are the shadows of things. These are the tame shadows-- they love to play on the wall with you and follow you about like cats and dogs. Sometimes they hiss at you softly like snakes that do not bite, or swish like women's dresses, but if you poke a candle at them they pull in their heads and disappear. But there is a shadow that is not the shadow of a thing... it is a thing itself. When you meet this shadow you must not look at it too long... it grows with your looking at it... till you are all alone with nothing around you... nothing... nothing... nothing... but a shadow with its eyes full of black light. : : There's a shadow in the corner of the shed, crouching, lying in wait... a black coiled shadow, watching... ready to strike... but I mustn't be afraid of it-- I mustn't be afraid of anything. Poor evil shadow, the candle would chase it away only she can't get at it. Do you think that every one hates you, shadow with your back to the wall, afraid to lie down and sleep? But I don't hate you. Even the moon means to be kind. She just treads on you as I'd tread on a worm that I didn't see. Don't be afraid of me, shadow. See--I've no light in my hand-- nothing to save myself with-- yet I walk right up to you-- if you'll let me I'll put my arms around you and stroke you softly. Are you surprised I'd put my arms around you? Is it your black black sorrow that nobody loves you? V JUDE When you tell mama you are going to do something great she looks at you as though you were a window she were trying to see through, and says she hopes you will be good instead of great. : : When you are five years old you spend the day in the Gardens. The grass is greener than cabbages, and orange lilies stand up very straight and will not curtsey to the sun when the wind tells them. Only pansies bow down very low. Pansies make little purple cushions for queen bees to stand on. Bees have brown silk hair on their bodies. If you are careful they will let you stroke them. The trees over the marble man catch up all the sunbeams so the shadows have it their way-- the shadows swallow him up like a blue shark. When you scoop a sunbeam up on your palm and offer it to the marble man, he does not notice... he looks into his stone beard. ... When you do something great people give you a stone face, so you do not care any more when the sun throws gold on you through leaf-holes the wind makes in green bushes.... This thought makes me very sad. : : Jude has eyes like tobacco with yellow specks on it and his hair is red as a red orange. Jude and I have made a garden in the field that no one knows about. We creep in and out through a little place where the barbed wire is down. We lie in the long grass and crush dandelions between our two cheeks till the milk comes out on our faces. We hold each other tight and the wind tip-toes all over us and pelts us with thistle-down. : : Jude isn't afraid of shadows-- not even of the ones that have eyes in them. And he can look in the face of the sun without blinking at all. Hush! don't say sun so loud. The sun gets angry when you stare at him. If you peek in his glory-windows he spreads into a great white flame like God out of his Burning Bush... till you put your hands up on your face and tremble like a drop of rain upon a flower that some one throws into the fire... and then the sun makes himself small, the sun swings down out of the sky-- littler'n a star, little as a spark little as a fierce red spider on a burning thread... and then the light goes out... shivers into blackened bits.... You hold on to a wall that whirls around and the gate is a black hole. You grope your way in like a toad that's blinded by a stone... and mama puts on cold wet rags that get hot soon.... Hush! don't let's talk about the sun. : : When you pass by the ditch where Janie is You run very fast and look at the other side. Jude says Janie did love me only she couldn't forgive me, and that you can love people very much and never, never, never forgive them.... so we poked a stick in the bottle-green water. But only weeds came up and an old top with the paint washed off. : : Jude and I wave to the new moon curled right up like one gold hair on the bald-head sandhill. Mama peeps out the window and smiles. She thinks I am playing with myself... Run, Jude, run with the wind-- but hold my hand tight or the wind, looking for some one to play with, will take me away from you! Wind with no one to play with cooees the orange-trees-- stay-at-home orange trees, have to nurse oranges, greeny-gold. Wind shouts to the grass-- run-away-grass tugs at its roots, but the earth holds tight and the grass falls down and wind boos over it. Wind whistles the bees-- bees too busy with taking home stuff out of flowers won't look back-- bees always going somewhere. Only Jude and I-- heads over shoulders watching all roads at one time-- run with the wind, going to nowhere. : : Jude and I were weeding our garden when we heard his whip-- must have been a new whip to cut off dandelion-heads at one swing.... He was the kind of boy you knew when you had Celia.... with nice clothes on and curls crawling about his collar like little golden slugs, and his man was leading his horse. I wish I hadn't run to meet him.... If you hadn't run to meet him he mightn't have trod on your garden and said: Get out of my field you dirty little beggar... he mightn't have struck you with his whip.... How the daisies stared.... I hate daisies-- stupid white faces-- skinny necks craning over the grass! I said It is not your field, and he struck me again. But he didn't make me run. His hand smelled of sweet soap... he couldn't shake me off, but his man did.... Funny--how the sky fell down and turned over and over like a blue carpet rolling you up, and the grass caught at your face-- it couldn't have been spiteful-- it must have been saving itself. Hot road... silly wind playing with your hair.... The road smelled of horses. I only got up when I heard a dray. : : Mama has sung ba ba black sheep, and put a chair with a cloth on it between me and the light. But the clock keeps saying: Dirty little beggar, dirty little beggar.... Some day I will get that boy. I will pull off his arms and legs and put him in a box and hide the box under the bed.... I wonder will he buzz when I take him out to look at his body that will have no arms to whip me? Mama drew my cot to the window so I can look at the stars. I will not look at the stars. There is a black chimney throwing up sparks and one tall flame like gold hair in a blaze.... I know now what I shall do.... I will set fire to him and he will burn up into a tall flame-- he will scream into the sky and sparks will fly out of him-- he will burn and burn... and his blazing hair shall light up the world. : : Before he hit me-- I knew he was going to-- I thought about Jude.... I thought if he'd fight... but he shriveled all up... he lay down like a fear. Mama never knew about Jude. You always wanted to tell her, but somehow you never did. You were afraid she'd smile and say he wasn't real-- that he was only a little dream-boy, because the grass didn't fall down under his feet.... He is fading now.... He is just lines... like a drawing.... You can see mama in between. When she moves she rubs some of him out. MONOLOGUES JAGUAR Nasal intonations of light and clicking tongues... publicity of windows stoning me with pent-up cries... smells of abattoirs... smells of long-dead meat. Some day-end-- while the sand is yet cozy as a blanket off the warm body of a squaw, and the jaguars are out to kill... with a blue-black night coming on and a painted cloud stalking the first star-- I shall go alone into the Silence... the coiled Silence... where a cry can run only a little way and waver and dwindle and be lost. And there... where tiny antlers clinch and strain as life grapples in a million avid points, and threshing things strike and die, letting their hate live on in the spreading purple of a wound... I too will make covert of a crevice in the night, and turn and watch... nose at the cleft's edge. WILD DUCK I That was a great night we spied upon See-sawing home, Singing a hot sweet song to the super-stars Shuffling off behind the smoke-haze... Fog-horns sentimentalizing on the river... Lights dwindling to shining slits In the wet asphalt... Purring lights... red and green and golden-whiskered... Digging daintily pointed claws in the soft mud... ... But you did not know... As the trains made golden augers Boring in the darkness... How my heart kept racing out along the rails, As a spider runs along a thread And hauls him in again To some drawing point... You did not know How wild ducks' wings Itch at dawn... How at dawn the necks of wild ducks Arch to the sun And new-mown air Trickles sweet in their gullets. II As water, cleared of the reflection of a bird That has lately flown across it, Yet trembles with the beating of its wings, So my soul... emptied of the known you... utterly... Is yet vibrant with the cadence of the song You might have been.... 'Twas a great night... With never a waste look over a shoulder Curved to the crook of the wind... And a great word we threw For memory to play knuckles with... A word the waters of the world have washed, Leaving it stark and without smell... A world that rattles well in emptiness: Good-by. THE DREAM I have a dream to fill the golden sheath of a remembered day.... (Air heavy and massed and blue as the vapor of opium... domes fired in sulphurous mist... sea quiescent as a gray seal... and the emerging sun spurting up gold over Sydney, smoke-pale, rising out of the bay....) But the day is an up-turned cup and its sun a junk of red iron guttering in sluggish-green water-- where shall I pour my dream? ALTITUDE I wonder how it would be here with you, where the wind that has shaken off its dust in low valleys touches one cleanly, as with a new-washed hand, and pain is as the remote hunger of droning things, and anger but a little silence sinking into the great silence. COMRADES Life You have been good to me.... You have not made yourself too dear to juggle with. NOCTURNE Indigo bulb of darkness Punctured by needle lights Through a fissure of brick canyon shutting out stars, And a sliver of moon Spigoting two high windows over the West river.... Boy, I met to-night, Your eyes are two red-glowing arcs shifting with my vision.... They reflect as in a fading proof The deadened eyes of a woman, And your shed virginity, Light as the withered pod of a sweet pea, Moist and fragrant Blows against my soul. What are you to me, boy, That I, who have passed so many lights, Should carry your eyes Like swinging lanterns? CACTUS SEED Radiant notes piercing my narrow-chested room, beating down through my ceiling-- smeared with unshapen belly-prints of dreams drifted out of old smokes-- trillions of icily peltering notes out of just one canary, all grown to song 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 my brain, flinching under the glittering hail of your notes-- were you not safe behind... rats know what thickness of... plastered wall...
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