IN THE HEYDAYS OF HIS EYES
(taut jeans dancing)

An Anthology of Poetry about Being Young and Growing Up
 
 
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YOUNG MOTHERS



A YOUTH MOWING

D. H. Lawrence

There are four men mowing down by the Isar;
I can hear the swish of the scythe-strokes, four
Sharp breaths taken:  yea, and I 
Am sorry for what's in store.

The first man out of the four that's mowing
Is mine, I claim him once and for all;
Though it's sorry I am, on his young feet, knowing
None of the trouble he's led to stall.

As he sees me bringing the dinner, he lifts
His head as proud as a deer that looks
Shoulder-deep out of the corn; and wipes
His scythe-blade bright, unhooks

The scythe-stone and over the stubble to me.
Lad, thou has gotten a child in me,
Laddie, a man thou'lt ha'e to be,
Yea, though I'm sorry for thee.


      Imagine yourself pregnant. Write a poem to the boy--who will soon need to be a man--who is the father. Imagine you see him working or occupied some other way. Describe him, and then find your own way of saying, "Laddie, a man thou'lt ha'e to be...."


ELSA WERTMAN

Edgar Lee Masters

I was a peasant girl from Germany,
Blue-eyed, rosy, happy and strong.
And the first place I worked was at Thomas Greene's.
On a summer's day when she was away
He stole into the kitchen and took me
Right in his arms and kissed me on my throat,
I turning my head.    Then neither of us
Seemed to know what happened.
And I cried for what would become of me.
And cried and cried as my secret began to show.
One day Mrs. Greene said she understood,
And would make no trouble for me,
And, being childless, would adopt it.
(He had given her a farm to be still.)
So she hid in the house and sent out rumors,
As if it were going to happen to her.
And all went well and the child was born--They were so kind to me.
Later I married Gus Wertman, and years passed.
But--at political rallies when sitters-by thought I was crying
At the eloquence of Hamilton Greene--
That was not it. 
 No!  I wanted to say :
That's my son!  That's my son!


YOUNG WOMAN AT A WINDOW (2)

William Carlos Williams

While she sits
there

with tears on
her cheek

her cheek on
her hand

this little child
who robs her

knows nothing of
his theft

but rubs his
nose


UNKNOWN GIRL IN THE MATERNITY WARD

Anne Sexton

Child, the current of your breath is six days long.
You lie, a small knuckle on my white bed;
lie, fisted like a snail, so small and strong
at my breast.  Your lips are animals; you are fed
with love.  At first hunger is not wrong.
The nurses nod their caps; you are shepherded
down starch halls with the other unnested throng
in wheeling baskets.  You tip like a cup; your head
moving to my touch.  You sense the way we belong.
But this is an institution bed.
You will not know me very long.

The doctors are enamel.  They want to know
the facts.  They guess about the man who left me,
some pendulum soul, going the way men go
and leave you full of child.  But our case history
stays blank.  All I did was let you grow.  
Now we are here for all the ward to see.
They thought I was strange, although
I never spoke a word.  I burst empty
of you, letting you learn how the air is so.
The doctors chart the riddle they ask of me
and I turn my head away.  I do not know.

Yours is the only face I recognize.
Bone at my bone, you drink my answers in.
Six times a day I prize
your need, the animals of your lips, your skin
growing warm and plump.  I see your eyes
lifting their tents.  They are blue stones, they begin
to outgrow their moss.  You blink in surprise
and I wonder what you can see, my funny kin,
as you trouble my silence.  I am a shelter of lies
Should I learn to speak again, or hopeless in 
such sanity will I touch some face I recognize?

Down the hall the baskets start back.  My arms 
fit you like a sleeve, they hold
catkins of your willows, the wild bee farms
of your nerves, each muscle and fold
of your first days.  Your old man's face disarms
the nurses.  But the doctors return to scold 
me.  I speak.  It is you my silence harms.
I should have known; I should have told
them something to write down.  My voice alarms
my throat.  'Name of father--none.'  I hold
you and name you bastard in my arms.

And now that's that.  There is nothing more
that I can say or lose.
Others have traded life before
and could not speak.  I tighten to refuse
your owling eyes, my fragile visitor.
I touch your cheeks, like flowers.  You bruise
against me.  We unlearn.  I am a shore
rocking you off.  You break from me.  I choose
your only way, my small inheritor
and hand you off, trembling the selves we lose.
Go child, who is my sin and nothing more.


 
 
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