Afterwards the maid came in with new sheets,
Her face smooth and polished as a moon:
As the pewter mirror of a pewter jug.
She knew everything and understood nothing.
Fru Janson sent up a beaker of water; I
Threw it out the window for ice.
The curtains were so beautiful, my God; it was
Like being enveloped in velvet and rocked
To sleep. It flowered like a lady’s hair, like the sigh
Of coming-undone, all arms, white thighs—
And the lily-throats of angels, tiny, rising,
Invisible, no voice, all mind, shining.
Nowadays they tamp out my light
With their little silver thimbles, it fizzles
To nothingness. I wanted to swallow the whole
Vial of genius because I was dying slowly
Of their snuffers. Do you know how that feels?
Like a moth blurring in a bowl of milk, stirring
Fainter, fainter—fainter—becoming whiteness.
They thought they’d tame me, top-hat, three-piece
Suit, the life of significant fruit. But I am
A wound, blooming red through everything, like the curse
Of the jar in the disturbed mummy’s-tomb: I am desire
And desire’s matchstick. I will do it again, you know.
This article is available to online subscribers only.
Please choose from one of the options below to access this article:
Purchase a print premium subscription (20 issues per year) and also receive online access to all all content on nybooks.com.
Purchase an Online Edition subscription and receive full access to all articles published by the Review since 1963.
Purchase a trial Online Edition subscription and receive unlimited access for one week to all the content on nybooks.com.