Blooms in Jars

From Third Avenue On

Djuna Barnes, 18921982

And now she walks on out turned feet
Beside the litter in the street
Or rolls beneath a dirty sheet
Within the town.
She does not stir to doff her dress,
She does not kneel low to confess,
A little conscience, no distress
And settles down.

Ah God! she settles down we say;
It means her powers slip away
It means she draws back day by day
From good or bad.
And so she looks upon the floor
Or listens at an open door
Or lies her down, upturned to snore
Both loud and sad.

Or sits beside the chinaware,
Sits mouthing meekly in a chair,
With over-curled, hard waving hair
Above her eyes.
Or grins too vacant into space—
A vacant space is in her face—
Where nothing came to take the place
Of high hard cries.

Or yet we hear her on the stairs
With some few elements of prayers,
Until she breaks it off and swears
A loved bad word.
Somewhere beneath her hurried curse,
A corpse lies bounding in a hearse;
And friends and relatives disperse,
And are not stirred.

Those living dead up in their rooms
Must note how partial are the tombs,
That take men back into their wombs
While theirs must fast.
And those who have their blooms in jars
No longer stare into the stars,
Instead, they watch the dinky cars—
And live aghast.

 

This poem is in the public domain.

twinkling stars

*Illustration: Origin Unknown

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