The Parting, by Madison Cawein
She passed the thorn-trees, whose gaunt branches tossed
Their spider-shadows round her; and the breeze,
Beneath the ashen moon, was full of frost,
And mouthed and mumbled to the sickly trees,
Like some starved hag who sees her children freeze.
Dry-eyed she waited by the sycamore.
Some stars made misty blotches in the sky.
And all the wretched willows on the shore
Looked faded as a jaundiced cheek or eye.
She felt their pity and could only sigh.
And then his skiff ground on the river rocks.
Whistling he came into the shadow made
By that dead tree. He kissed her dark brown locks;
And round her form his eager arms were laid.
Passive she stood, her secret unbetrayed.
And then she spoke, while still his greeting kiss
Ached in her hair. She did not dare to lift
Her eyes to his—her anguished eyes to his,
While tears smote crystal in her throat. One rift
Of weakness humored might set all adrift.
Fields over which a path, overwhelmed with burrs
And ragweeds, noisy with the grasshoppers,
Leads,—lost, irresolute as paths the cows
Wear through the woods,—unto a woodshed; then,
With wrecks of windows, to a huddled house,
Where men have murdered men.
A house, whose tottering chimney, clay and rock,
Is seamed and crannied; whose lame door and lock
Are bullet-bored; around which, there and here,
Are sinister stains.—One dreads to look around.—
The place seems thinking of that time of fear
And dares not breathe a sound.
Within is emptiness: The sunlight falls
On faded journals papering the walls;
On advertisement chromos, torn with time,
Around a hearth where wasps and spiders build.—
The house is dead: meseems that night of crime
It, too, was shot and killed.