Let me hold your heart like a flower

Anne Sexton

A woman
who loves a woman
is forever young.
The mentor
and the student
feed off each other.
Many a girl
had an old aunt
who locked her in the study
to keep the boys away.
They would play rummy
or lie on the couch
and touch and touch.
Old breast against young breast...
Let your dress fall down your shoulder,

come touch a copy of you
for I am at the mercy of rain,
for I have left the three Christs of Ypsilanti
for I have left the long naps of Ann Arbor
and the church spires have turned to stumps.
The sea bangs into my cloister
for the politicians are dying,
and dying so hold me, my young dear,
hold me...
The yellow rose will turn to cinder

and New York City will fall in
before we are done so hold me,
my young dear, hold me.
Put your pale arms around my neck.
Let me hold your heart like a flower
lest it bloom and collapse.
Give me your skin
as sheer as a cobweb,
let me open it up
and listen in and scoop out the dark.
Give me your nether lips
all puffy with their art
and I will give you angel fire in return.
We are two clouds
glistening in the bottle glass.
We are two birds
washing in the same mirror.
We were fair game
but we have kept out of the cesspool.
We are strong.
We are the good ones.
Do not discover us
for we lie together all in green
like pond weeds.
Hold me, my young dear, hold me.
They touch their delicate watches

one at a time.
They dance to the lute
two at a time.
They are as tender as bog moss.
They play mother-me-do
all day.
A woman
who loves a woman
is forever young.

The Witch
Mary Elizabeth Coleridge

I have walked a great while over the snow,
And I am not tall nor strong.
My clothes are wet, and my teeth are set,
And the way was hard and long.
I have wandered over the fruitful earth,
But I never came here before.
Oh, lift me over the threshold, and let me in at the door!

The cutting wind is a cruel foe.
I dare not stand in the blast.
My hands are stone, and my voice a groan,
And the worst of death is past.
I am but a little maiden still,
My little white feet are sore.
Oh, lift me over the threshold, and let me in at the door!

Her voice was the voice that women have,
Who plead for their heart's desire.
She came—she came—and the quivering flame
Sunk and died in the fire.
It never was lit again on my hearth
Since I hurried across the floor,
To lift her over the threshold, and let her in at the door.

The Changeling
Charlotte Mew

Toll no bell for me, dear Father, dear Mother,
        Waste no sighs;
There are my sisters, there is my little brother
     Who plays in the place called Paradise
Your children all, your children for ever;
                But I, so wild,
Your disgrace, with the queer brown face, was never,
     Never, I know, but half your child!

In the garden at play, all day, last summer,
                Far and away I heard
The sweet ‘tweet-tweet’ of a strange new-comer,
     The dearest, clearest call of a bird.
It lived down there in the deep green hollow,
     My own old home, and the fairies say
The word of a bird is a thing to follow,
     So I was away a night and a day.

One evening, too, by the nursery fire,
     We snuggled close and sat round so still,
When suddenly as the wind blew higher,
     Something scratched on the window-sill.
A pinched brown face peered in — I shivered;
     No one listened or seemed to see;
The arms of it waved and the wings of it quivered,
     Whoo — I knew it had come for me;
     Some are as bad as bad can be!
All night long they danced in the rain,
Round and round in a dripping chain,
Threw their caps at the window-pane,
     Tried to make me scream and shout
     And fling the bedclothes all about:
I meant to stay in bed that night,
And if only you had left a light
     They would never have got me out.

     Sometimes I wouldn’t speak, you see,
     Or answer when you spoke to me,
Because in the long, still dusks of Spring
You can hear the whole world whispering;
     The shy green grasses making love,
     The feathers grow on the dear, grey dove,
     The tiny heart of the redstart beat,
     The patter of the squirrel’s feet,
The pebbles pushing in the silver streams,
The rushes talking in their dreams,
     The swish-swish of the bat’s black wings,
     The wild-wood bluebell’s sweet ting-tings,
          Humming and hammering at your ear,
          Everything there is to hear
In the heart of hidden things,
     But not in the midst of the nursery riot,
     That’s why I wanted to be quiet,
          Couldn’t do my sums, or sing,
          Or settle down to anything.
     And when, for that, I was sent upstairs
     I did kneel down to say my prayers;
But the King who sits on your high church steeple
Has nothing to do with us fairy people!

Times I pleased you, dear Father, dear Mother,
     Learned all my lessons and liked to play,
And dearly I loved the little pale brother
     Whom some other bird must have called away.
Why did They bring me here to make me
     Not quite bad and not quite good,
Why, unless They’re wicked, do They want, in spite, to take me
     Back to their wet, wild wood?
Now, every night, I shall see the windows shining,
     The gold lamp’s glow, and the fire’s red gleam,
While the best of us are twining twigs and the rest of us are whining
          In the hollow by the stream.
Black and chill are Their nights in the wold;
     And They live so long and They feel no pain;
I shall grow up, but never grow old,
I shall always, always be very cold,
          I shall never come back again!

A Fairy Tale
Amy Lowell

On winter nights beside the nursery fire
We read the fairy tale, while glowing coals
Builded its pictures. There before our eyes
We saw the vaulted hall of traceried stone
Uprear itself, the distant ceiling hung
With pendent stalactites like frozen vines;
And all along the walls at intervals,
Curled upwards into pillars, roses climbed,
And ramped and were confined, and clustered leaves
Divided where there peered a laughing face.
The foliage seemed to rustle in the wind,
A silent murmur, carved in still, gray stone.
High pointed windows pierced the southern wall
Whence proud escutcheons flung prismatic fires
To stain the tessellated marble floor
With pools of red, and quivering green, and blue;
And in the shade beyond the further door,
Its sober squares of black and white were hid
Beneath a restless, shuffling, wide-eyed mob
Of lackeys and retainers come to view
The Christening.
A sudden blare of trumpets, and the throng
About the entrance parted as the guests
Filed singly in with rare and precious gifts.
Our eager fancies noted all they brought,
The glorious, unattainable delights!
But always there was one unbidden guest
Who cursed the child and left it bitterness.

The fire falls asunder, all is changed,
I am no more a child, and what I see
Is not a fairy tale, but life, my life.
The gifts are there, the many pleasant things:
Health, wealth, long-settled friendships, with a name
Which honors all who bear it, and the power
Of making words obedient. This is much;
But overshadowing all is still the curse,
That never shall I be fulfilled by love!
Along the parching highroad of the world
No other soul shall bear mine company.
Always shall I be teased with semblances,
With cruel impostures, which I trust awhile
Then dash to pieces, as a careless boy
Flings a kaleidoscope, which shattering
Strews all the ground about with coloured sherds.
So I behold my visions on the ground
No longer radiant, an ignoble heap
Of broken, dusty glass. And so, unlit,
Even by hope or faith, my dragging steps
Force me forever through the passing days.

Goblin Market
Christina Rossetti

Morning and evening
Maids heard the goblins cry:
“Come buy our orchard fruits,
Come buy, come buy:
Apples and quinces,
Lemons and oranges,
Plump unpeck’d cherries,
Melons and raspberries,
Bloom-down-cheek’d peaches,
Swart-headed mulberries,
Wild free-born cranberries,
Crab-apples, dewberries,
Pine-apples, blackberries,
Apricots, strawberries;—
All ripe together
In summer weather,—
Morns that pass by,
Fair eves that fly;
Come buy, come buy:
Our grapes fresh from the vine,
Pomegranates full and fine,
Dates and sharp bullaces,
Rare pears and greengages,
Damsons and bilberries,
Taste them and try:
Currants and gooseberries,
Bright-fire-like barberries,
Figs to fill your mouth,
Citrons from the South,
Sweet to tongue and sound to eye;
Come buy, come buy.”

           Evening by evening
Among the brookside rushes,
Laura bow’d her head to hear,
Lizzie veil’d her blushes:
Crouching close together
In the cooling weather,
With clasping arms and cautioning lips,
With tingling cheeks and finger tips.
“Lie close,” Laura said,
Pricking up her golden head:
“We must not look at goblin men,
We must not buy their fruits:
Who knows upon what soil they fed
Their hungry thirsty roots?”
“Come buy,” call the goblins
Hobbling down the glen.

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